Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/anitakhart/
A primary goal in educating youth is to make them lifelong learners. Students’ future success depends on how motivated they are to learn and develop new knowledge and ideas on their own. The foundation for these skills starts with study habits in and out of school. So much of our learning takes place outside of school.
The study environment needs to promote positive habits. We want students to think about the concepts they are learning, but we don’t want the environment to cause distractions from studying.
My study/work environment
When I was studying in college and university I rarely studied at home or the library. My go to place was Starbucks. I was able to sit there for 2-3 hours with my white mocha and study. It was a relaxing study environment for me, which also helped me be productive. However, if I was working on a midterm/ final paper or presentation I usually stayed home and worked on the computer. For some reason I felt more comfortable working at home when trying to do the bigger projects and papers.
Now, my home office is where I like to be productive. I have a craft desk with a drafting chair, which may sound odd considering I am not an architect, but that chair helps me keep good posture while working. All my office supplies are strategically placed for easy access. On my corkboard I have pictures of family, my running medals, as well as some cards I received with encouraging and loving words. All of which are reminders of how far I have come and great motivation to move forward.
Tips and Ideas for Creating a Study Environment Conducive to Productivity and Success
Students have to think about where the best place is to study. It could be their room, outside on the porch with natural sunlight, at a public place, library, etc. Some students may prefer to study a certain subject in one place but study for another in a different place. When choosing a location consider how background noise affects studying. If studying in public, opt either for a quiet table in the corner or a spot right in the middle of it all, where there’s so much noise and buzz that you won’t get distracted by one conversation. And if all else fails, pick up and move away from distracting people when necessary.
Many students, especially those who are easily distracted or who have trouble keeping their attention focused, will find that it doesn’t take much noise to pull them away from their studying. Do you do better in silence, or are you the kind of student who thrives amid the buzz of background noise? Try a few settings, and pay attention to how each study session goes. Give the library a go one day, and see how that hushed environment works out. The next day, try a coffee shop or the park. Find a spot that’s comfortable, but not too comfortable, and make it your go-to study location.
Students tend to be attached to smart phones constantly texting, and using social media. Students have developed the habit of checking these sources several times hourly. Those habits break into a their concentration during study, shifting their attention, and taking time and focus away from studying. This affects retention and the amount of time it takes to get work done.
To create a more effective work environment, create a distraction-free zone during work time. Clear off your desk so only the necessary study supplies are within reach. Keep the smart phones out of arm’s reach. Remove instant messaging from the computer and ban Facebook during study time. Self Control is a great app to block social media. Click HERE to read about six more apps for your PC or mobile device that will block social media distractions.
The Work Space
A student’s workspace should be set up so that they do not need to search each day for the supplies they need. If using a desk it should be set up the same way each day. If a student is studying at a communal table at home then they should have a nearby bin or tray with supplies where they can regularly find what they need without having to spend a lot of time thinking about how to prepare for studying.
Posture for Studying
It is common to see students writing briefly at a desk, then working from a laptop computer on the floor, and then lying down on the couch to read a book.
“It is hard to maintain the same level of concentration when lying on the floor or propped up in bed as when sitting at a desk. The body’s habit when lying down is to relax and sleep. It is not helpful for students to have to fight that tendency when studying. In addition, lying down promotes passive reading. It is hard to take notes or type while lying down. So students who are lying down are playing a less active role in their learning than those who are sitting up.” Edutopia
Click HERE to read my post about how posture affects students and simple techniques for keeping good posture.
A lot of us listen to music while we read, write, and research. But does music help or hurt studying? The answer depends on the individual. Personally, I am a huge advocate for using music while studying. Music is rhythm and rhythm is structure. Our brain can use that structure to get things done. When the music comes on it tells you it’s time to go. Eventually after listening to the playlist often one can develop a sense of time. For example, if I hear Taylor Swift I might realize I am 15 min. into my work. Then, when I hear the Beatles I know I am close to the end of my 30 min work session and it’s almost time for a break. The playlist strategy can help students gain a sense of time and motivate them as well.
When studying, the clock can be your best friend or your worst enemy. Keeping an eye on the time can give you a sense of urgency, or it can be that thing you keep glancing at, distracting you from your work.
Use the clock to your advantage. Set time-related goals: Before you start an assignment or task, decide what time you plan to finish. Use the clock to keep you moving forward. The pomodoro app is a great way to help students stay on task as well as take much needed breaks in between.
Study groups or buddies can be very helpful, or very frustrating. If you like to study in groups, come prepared. Show up with a clear agenda of what you want to accomplish, questions you want to discuss, help you might need. Avoid wasting time with chatting or without a clear direction for your study group.
Feng Shui and Motivation
Take some time to create a clean, organized, neat workspace for studying, and then make every effort to keep it that way. Remember that a cluttered learning environment clutters the mind.
When organizing your study area consider your motivators for success. If you have an award/ medal you have earned or certificate you are proud of hang it up and make it visible. Past successes motivate us to do well. If you have a college or university in mind post a picture or brochure related to that school to remind you of your long term goal, your why.
Melanie Black of Student Futures is a certified academic life coach for students and teens. She has a passion to help students succeed. Academic coaching helps develop life skills for students as well as gives them academic strategies, which help to decrease anxiety and stress in students. Contact Melanie Black today for a free consultation at Melanie@studentfutures.org or (904) 487-8269.