Where you study can subconsciously influence your study patterns and can either encourage or impede your maximum academic potential. With our busy lifestyles, it is important to have an area or space that is designated for study and productivity. A space that is unique to you and your own study habits. For many people, the ideal study space might be the library or afterschool study hall, or maybe a separate study room in the house. It is important to find a space that works best for you. Any effective study space should inspire and amplify your studying techniques. Many secondary school students struggle to identify an ideal studying area, and this can have a negative impact on their overall attitude towards school.
Analysing the environment around you is very important. Where you end up studying is influenced by a variety of factors, which can make it hard to know if you are studying in an area that is best for you. If you are unsure of where you should be studying, take a step back and consider the following factors:
1. Your Lifestyle & Household
Personally, I come from a small household, so distractions from family is not always a factor I had to worry about. There are many areas of the house I could use as a study space without getting distracted. Those of you with larger households might find it difficult to identify a space that is just for you and your study. Maybe you have responsibilities some evenings, which can make it hard to maintain a constant in your study routine. Everyone’s circumstances and responsibilities are different; therefore, your ideal study space must be designed to suit your own lifestyle and the way you like to study.
2. Your Study Habits
There are a wide variety of learning techniques that can affect how you study and therefore affect where you can study. For audible learners like myself, I like re-reading notes out loud when I study to help me better understand. This technique of auditory self-explanation does not suit silent-only areas of study such as the library, therefore this is not my own personal ideal study space. Maybe you enjoy studying as part of a group where you can discuss topics with your peers. This social learning technique thrives in open, collaborated study areas, for example, group study rooms within a library. If you have more of a solitary or independent style of learning, you might prefer to work on your own in a secluded area such as your room, where you can focus completely. Identifying your personal learning technique is crucial and can be the first step in discovering your optimal study area.
3. External Distractions
Maybe you do have a suitable study area that allows you to get your work done, but you still feel as though it takes you much longer than it should to finish a study session. If this applies to you, it might be down to surrounding noise distractions. It could be a TV playing loudly or music blasting. If you are constantly using distractions, you are training your subconscious to focus on the distractions, and this can damage your productivity. When you decide to start studying, you need to make the conscious effort to minimise these distractions and maintain your self-discipline. Your mobile phone is a phenomenal device that can act as an aid in your study routine, but at times it might do more harm than good. These external distractions can lead to procrastination and you will no longer become focused on what you are studying. When you have assessed your own situation and considered these factors, then you can work on ways to construct an ideal study space that is tailored for you.
4. What Conditions Best Suit You?
There are a variety of study spaces that you will use over the course of your secondary and third-level school education and there is this universal consensus on the most optimal study conditions in these spaces:
You want to study in a place that is quiet, has a large desk, a comfortable chair and is within reach of all the resources you might need while studying (e.g., laptop, textbooks, copybooks etc.).
No matter where you decide to study, these will always be the crucial necessities that will make your study space functional. These conditions, along with the factors mentioned earlier, is what will determine your ideal study space.
Maybe your lifestyle is much busier, and you have to implement various extracurricular activities and sports into your school routine. When you get home on certain evenings you might feel exhausted and only have enough time for homework or in the case of university, catch up notes. This might mean that a study hall might best suit you, either in your school or with an external education provider. The sense of routine that exists within these study sessions can help you with your self-discipline and productivity. For a few designated days of the week, you have a set amount of time where you know you can get work done and balance out the busier days. Study halls might not suit everyone, but they can certainly compensate for days during the week that are filled with other activities. You will feel secure and reassured in the fact that you can enjoy your favourite hobbies and still have time for productive study.
If you have a busier household, you might find it easier to set aside time and study away from home. Library spaces would be the optimal choice here. You have much more autonomy than with an after-school study hall as you can decide how long you want to study for and when to take your breaks, and this flexibility might be a condition that best suits you. It is great for students to spend time in their local library. Even though I am an audible learner, I can still thrive in quiet learning situations. And I feel like this is true for every student, no matter your learning style. The library meets all the required conditions of an ideal study space. It is a quiet space with an abundance of resources. And if you are still unsure of where you would like to study, choosing the library is a good start.
Now that external factors in relation to study areas have been covered, lets discuss the importance of being able to create and personalize your study space in your own home.
5. Creating & Personalising your Space
Even if you prefer to study away from home most days of the week, because it is what suits you, every student should have a (semi)-permanent area in their house that is designated for study. The Covid pandemic has not only altered society as we know it but has also changed the learning dynamic of every student. Remote learning at home is difficult for many, especially those who might rely on the resources provided at school & college, or just do not have adequate space in their home. Even with these adversaries, it is still possible to make a space at home that is just for you and your academic productivity.
The case for most people is creating a study space in their bedroom. If you have the space for it, this can be the most ideal. You can create a healthy blend of where your personal life meets your school life. However, try your best to keep the two separate and find a balance, i.e. do not study while lying in bed. For those who may not have the space in their own bedrooms to create a functional workspace, do not worry! Search for a space elsewhere in the house. I found a corner in my kitchen that worked best for me and I had a desk that faced away from the dining table and overlooked the garden. This brought in great light during the daytime, which is ideal for studying. Whatever spot you choose; you want to be able to make it your own. Along with the basics of a quiet space, a large desk and comfortable chair, you can add your own personal touch:
- You might work well with tactile thinking aids, like some clay or a Rubix cube or, my personal favourite, a colouring book. These items can be used if you need a short break to refocus your thinking, so keep them close to your study space. Using these tactics will steer you away from using your mobile phone and social media as a coping method when you are struggling through a difficult question. I am no artist and colouring may sound childish, but it is a fun and engaging activity that enhances my concentration. I always made sure to have a colouring book and some colouring pencils in my study space and this added a personal touch.
- Maybe you enjoy having a visual reminder, such as a poster. Your poster can be of your favourite artist or movie or just something that inspires you. Or maybe you can make a unique poster that motivates your study and act as a positive reminder, for example a poster of a quote that resonates with you. Personalised posters remind you that this is your space of creativity and productivity. Colourful posters are also helpful and interactive for visual-styled learners.
When you have constructed the most ideal and reliable study space for yourself, you can have full confidence that this is a space you feel comfortable in and that amplifies your own learning. Your study space should inspire you. It should provoke and reinforce ideas that will keep you engaged and focused. Your study space should play to your strengths and can complement your learning style. Whether it is the library or your study desk at home, make the commitment to yourself to remain productive when you enter your study space.