Here at Your College Sensei, I’m all about efficiency. That means in every aspect of college including where you choose to study. Having an organized and clean study space will create a productive study environment saving you time and stress. It’s also one of the smartest things you can do as it sets you up to be a successful student.
“Indirect tactics, efficiently applied, are inexhaustible as Heaven and Earth, unending as the flow of rivers and streams; like the sun and moon, they end but to begin anew; like the four seasons, they pass away to return once more.”—The Art Of War, Sun Tzu
When you create a study space that is purposeful and functional you are creating a strategic advantage. You are indirectly setting yourself up to be successful in your classes and college. It is through indirect strategies like this that will be key to graduating college quickly and with the least amount of debt.
Below are a few tips and tricks that will make your study space productive and all your own.
1. Dedicate An Area That Will Be Your Study Space
It’s tempting to set up a study space at the dining room table, in the living room on the couch, or even in your bedroom on the bed. These areas are very distractive and aren’t favorable to learning.
Choose a distraction-free zone that can be dedicated just to studying. Find a spot in your bedroom, home office, or even a quiet nook. Somewhere that’s out-of-the-way. The goal is to keep distractions to a manageable level. Make this spot permanent.
2. Furniture Needs To Be Comfortable
When you are studying, you want to be comfortable. The height of your desk is important. Choose a desk that comes up between your waist and ribcage when you sit at it. The belly button area is a good height. I think a desk height of 28-30 inches high should fit most students. Shop for the perfect desk.
Your chair should fit the height of the desk. You want to be able to rest your feet on the floor and bend your knees and hips at a 90° angle. This position is best for blood flow and pressure points. Your arms need to be even with the desk so as not to hunch your shoulders. When you sit you want to be relaxed. Make adjustments if necessary. A small pillow behind your back or a memory foam keyboard wrist and mouse pad.
I have personally purchased this cushion 3 times, once for myself and twice for coworkers.
3. Good Lighting
Think about the amount of light you have in your space. When a study space isn’t properly lit it can cause eye strain and make you drowsy. Natural light is best as some overhead lighting like fluorescents can be very hard on your eyes. Windows are great for natural light, but if your study time is in the evening or at night or doesn’t have a window, you will need a good lamp and overhead light. If you are reading a textbook use a small desk lamp to light your immediate study area.
When using your computer, be sure your screen contrast is comfortable. Not having the right contrast and brightness can cause not only eyestrain but can make you feel tired. The brightness of your screen is very important because this is what emits blue light. For most study areas the brightness level of 60 is good. But if you have a lot of natural or sunlight you can drop it to 40 or so. Just try to keep the brightness level as low as possible. I also recommend blue light-blocking glasses to help rest your eyes. Leave these glasses at your desk so you can use them when working on the computer.
To change the brightness on your monitor close out or minimize any open tabs and then right-click anywhere on your desktop. Select “display settings”. Brightness will be at the top. Just slide the bar to increase or decrease the brightness level.
4. Remove All Distractions
When creating your study space, you must remove all distractions. You don’t want anything to take away from your study time. To study efficiently, you want to devote as much of your attention to studying as possible. You don’t want to waste any of the time you’ve set aside to study by being preoccupied with something else. Manage your time wisely.
If there is a television in the room, turn it off. Put your phone on silent. Don’t be pulled away by social media, replying to texts, or answering phone calls. This is your study time unless it’s an emergency everything else can wait.
5. Keep Your Study Space Tidy
They say, “A cluttered space is a cluttered mind”. I find this very true. I study better when the space around me is clean and organized. Studies have shown that a messy desk prevents productivity and growth, which often makes one feel stagnant. Like your phone and television, clutter can be distracting, you don’t want anything diverting your attention. Your focus needs to be on your studies not on the mess around you.
Only keep on your desk what you use daily. Everything else should be stored until you need it. If you have a bookshelf or whiteboard, these should be kept organized too. Don’t leave old food, drinks, or snack bags around. Organize papers and supplies. Invest in a good desk organizer so things are properly stored, and you don’t have to waste time searching for them. Keep a waste basket close.
Sensei Side Note:
For a little extra personalization and motivation include something in your study space that inspires you and reminds you of why you are going to college. If it’s because you want to get a good job (choose an excellent college degree) and earn a great income include something that reminds you of that. If you want a better life for yourself and your family add a family photo for inspiration. Whatever your reasons are, remind yourself. When our goals are clear it keeps up motivated and helps us stay focused.