As virtual college coursework becomes more common and college students prepare for a whole new kind of study experience, it is important to get set up for success. Today’s college students are responsible for managing multiple courses, keeping homework organized, and now making sure the dog isn’t barking while they’re on video! Set up a home study space that will promote good academic habits and you’re already ahead of the game. Here’s how!
Start with what to leave out!
If you are setting up a study space in a common area of your home, choose a space that has as few distractions as possible. Maybe it’s time for a major declutter! Make sure the television, video games, and any cluttered areas are out of sight. Out of sight, out of mind as they say! Set up the study space away from messy snacks and other “To-Do” lists, and designate a place away from the computer to plug in phones and leave them for the duration of study time.
Next, pick one place and create a routine
The human mind is an amazing thing. By creating one dedicated study space and returning to it again and again, it will become easier to get in the studying mindset. So determine what space will become the study nook for the upcoming semester and start to get to know it as such. Don’t let it get cluttered with anything that isn’t study-related! Unrelated magazines, dog toys, and other distractions keep away!
Prepare with all of the essential study items
Create a comfortable study space at home, but not too comfortable. Make sure there is a sturdy desk, chair, and lighting to keep all those college textbooks well illuminated. You might also stock up on these common study items:
- Notebooks or binders
- Index cards
- Plenty of writing utensils like pens and pencils
- If you are working with a laptop, invest in an external mouse instead of using the trackpad. It is far more ergonomically friendly!
- Calculator or other course-specific tools
- Noise-blocking headphones
- Textbooks or a tablet loaded with necessary articles and books
- A paper planner or calendar for visually mapping due dates or other important timelines
- Decorations that inspire or delight, but aren’t distracting. Think low-maintenance plants, nature scenes, or inspiring quotes.
- Water and healthy, non-sugary snacks to keep energy levels up
Get the lighting and temperature right
Working next to a window to get natural light and airflow is the best-case scenario. If that isn’t possible, be intentional with arranging desk lamps so space is adequately illuminated. Studies say that “cool light” (with a bluer hue) is better for focus, while “warm light” (more orange or reddish) is better for creativity — take your pick, or have both available! Be sure that the entire study area can be used even into the late-night study sessions, and that one of the lamps is set up for conference calls or webinars to illuminate the viewer’s face. Your home study space needs to be adaptable!
If you have control over the temperature in the room, look for that middle ground: not too hot, not too cold. This criterion depends on personal preference, but there’s nothing like a heatwave to dull a student’s ability to focus on the task at hand. Sometimes a standing fan or a space heater can do just the trick when room controls aren’t available.
Create a study schedule for optimal productivity
Unlike sitting on campus in the library, studying at home means there are endless possible distractions. Why not go cook some food, or call a friend, or go for a jog, or… So set up timeframes that are supportive of study. Determine the times of day that feel the most focused and productive and set a reasonable schedule. Include plenty of breaks to get up and stretch: research says that study breaks every 30-60 minutes ultimately help boost productivity.
Make the best of the space you have
Setting up a home study space isn’t always easy if you’re working with space limitations. Get creative and let it be a continual work in progress. Make adjustments in furniture, schedule, and supplies as needed, and most of all: keep up with coursework! A little discipline goes a long way, and graduation is never that far away.
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