To be honest, studying is difficult. You need to get so many factors right – there are growth mindset, discipline, time management, study space and more. However, today we are going to talk about your study space, one not considered as important as it should be.
A study found out that environmental factors, such as noise, temperature, lighting, and more can affect how students learn.
A slight distraction in class could cause you to miss out on crucial information that will be tested in exams, possibly leading to a significant negative impact on your exam results. An unconducive environment at home may always result in unproductive studying, which could snowball and again, result in a significant negative impact on one’s exam results.
I am not trying to scare you here, but I would like you to understand just how important an optimum study space is, and a factor that should not be taken lightly.
As such, I would like to share with you 8 tips on how to create an optimum study space. Here they are:
1. Find and Designate A Fixed Study Space
It may sound crazy to you at first but after I designated a fixed study space for myself and stuck to it…
- My mindset always automatically switches to ‘study mode’ whenever I enter my study space, or you may call it ‘get into the zone.’
- Like a deeply ingrained habit, I pick up my pen and start completing assignments after assignments. My actions did not require conscious control and I was easily able to start studying with little motivation.
2. Get Rid of Technological Distractions From Your Study Space (if possible)
There are a plethora of research studies showing that the use of technology – mobile devices, computers etc – is harming students’ learning to such a great extent that in July 2018, the French government banned cell phones in school.
With the constant notifications coming in from friends and family, the urge to surf the web for entertainment and to continue your games, it is insanely difficult for you to concentrate on your studies. Even if you were able to concentrate, your focus will not last long and soon enough, you will get back to resisting the urge to pick up your phone.
Thus, I feel that the best way to reduce technological distractions is not to put your phone in your pocket or turn it over, but to turn it off. A better way is to put it far from your study area, outside your room or outside your study space where you can neither see it nor hear the constant notification sounds.
3. Aim To Study In An Environment With Little To No Noise
The noisier your environment is, the more difficult it will be to concentrate and complete assignments. Noise can constantly interrupt your thoughts and hinder you from making any progress.
A research discovered that noise disturbance caused a decline in a student’s performance in an elementary school in Medan. So, make sure to find a study space with little to no noise so that you get to focus intensely on your assignment till you are complete with it.
Some examples can be the library, a study corner, an empty classroom, lecture hall or even the computer room. If you are lucky, you may even find a quiet cafe with little traffic.
4. Another Type Of Distraction
Although I talked about technological distractions in my first point, I will be talking about another type of distraction here. This distraction can be the constant flow of people or the sound of colliding metal.
If anything, people or environment, distracts or annoys you, it will be much better if you find another study space.
5. The Unbearable Heat/Cold
According to a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research, students’ test scores dropped in years when the temperature was higher.
Being in Singapore, a country very near the equator where strong rays of sunlight often hit my window from noon to evening, I struggle to keep my room cool. My room has always felt like a small oven, with still and hot air.
Although I did notice I was able to concentrate in cooler environments, I did nothing about it. I did not realize the importance of this environmental factor to my studies till the day I experienced a headache due to the still and hot air in my room.
The headache turned into a migraine and I was unable to continue my studies till a few days later. I realized I lost a lot of precious time to study, and so I decided to change.
I opened my window wider and earlier than usual to ensure the hot air does not accumulate. If the room was too hot, I would turn on the air conditioner for a while to cool the room before switching it off.
Whenever I am out of the room, I would keep the fan on to ensure there is the constant airflow. Moreover, I even tried waking up early so that I could open up my window and let the cool morning breeze flow into my room before the afternoon sun came.
All these additional measures proved effective in making my environment a more comfortable place to focus. Depending on which country one is from, it is important to adapt and continuously find ways to make your environment more optimal to study in.
6. Lighting In Your Study Space
Similar to temperature, this is an environmental factor that you constantly miss out until you experience the difficulty studying in an environment you are not used to.
You may find studying in a bright environment to be best for you. Someone else may find a slightly dimmer environment optimal. It really depends.
For me, I prefer having a bright environment to study in and I did not enjoy dark corners or areas with natural light.
Some students love to listen to music while studying. They find that it helps them concentrate better. If that is you, you should listen to music. Furthermore, a Stanford study found that music moves the brain to pay attention.
However, everyone is different and some feel that music is encouraging or even quickening their thought process while others constantly feel that music is interrupting their thought process. If you are unsure, try both and decide which one helps you to study.
For those music-study people out there:
You love studying with music on?
But there comes another challenge…what type of music would be best for studying?
You may have seen many articles or Youtube videos on study music. It is crazy out there with the number of attention paid to study music.
Let me tell you which one is better using this study by Bugter and Carden. They found out that participants who listened to classical music scored significantly better on a memory task than those who listened to rap music.
The findings were similar to a study done by Hallam, S., Price, J., and Katsarou, G. in 2002 found that participants who listened to calming music performed better on memory and cognitive tasks than those who listened to arousing, aggressive and unpleasant music.
As such, it is imperative to choose the right music to study in. One popular genre to listen to while studying is baroque. Baroque has been found to be a particularly useful study music which stabilizes mental, physical and emotional rhythms.
8. Do You Feel Sleepy?
The last factor I would like to talk about is how comfortable you are in your study space.
Are you too comfortable that you feel sleepy?
If you are, then you probably should not use that as your study space.
I personally know that it does not bode well for one to study in that type of environment as I studied on my bed quite a lot during secondary school. Most of the time, unfortunately, I nod off after reading a few lines in my textbook or I divert all my energy to staying awake, unaware that I am not learning anything throughout that period.
I highly recommend you not to study somewhere dim or on a sofa or a bed where you can easily doze off. Try finding an environment that is in the middle of the comfort spectrum – not too comfortable till you fall asleep but comfortable enough to study optimally.
For those of you out there who prefer ranking factors, you could use a table something like the one below. After ranking all the environmental factors you have, you should come up with something like this:
|Study Environment||Rank (1-10)||Ultimate Rank|
|Noise Level||Level of distraction||Temperature||Lighting||Level of focus?||Comfortable?||Frequency|
|House study room||5||4||Stuffy and hot||Excellent||7||Yes but hot||Everyday||1|
|School library||4||4||Cooling||Excellent||9||Very comfortable||Everyday||2|
|Public library||7||8||Cooling||Excellent||9||Very comfortable||Rarely||3|
This is just a quick and random ranking of my study areas and is still incomplete. Feel free to add more environments and factors so that you can make the perfect decision on where to study.
I know this is the end of the article already, but I would like all of you to know that almost all of the environmental factors that I have discussed are in your control, that is, you can change them. You don’t have to avoid studying in a place that does not meet all 8 factors.
Instead, you can possibly modify the existing environment or make a new one. E.g. If the corner of a library does not have a table, could you move it there? OR If your house does not have a study desk, could you buy one that you find comfortable with, one that you can place your documents for easy reach?
You could use your creativity to create a whole new optimum study space from nothing!