As a student, you’re expected to spend a considerable amount of time on independent study, but how, when and where you do this can have a big impact on your productivity.
If you’re feeling frustrated and unmotivated, it’s worth reviewing your workspace and making some changes to build better habits. It’s time to create a study sanctuary.
Balancing a laptop on your knees in a noisy communal area or multitasking at the kitchen table probably isn’t the best environment for effective learning. Consider where you feel calm and comfortable when studying and most able to focus. This could be your bedroom, a corner of a cosy café or the library. If you decide on a spot in your bedroom, clear anything that could divert your attention and try physically dividing it off to create a dedicated study area. Wherever you choose, your surroundings should have minimal distractions, a suitable temperature, good ventilation and ideally natural lighting to help prevent visual fatigue from your screen.
Next, assess your equipment to ensure you have a good sitting posture and neutral wrists to avoid discomfort and prevent injuries. Adjust your desk and chair height if possible and the position of your monitor so the top of the screen is at, or slightly below, eye level and about an arm’s length away from your eyes. A quick way to do this is to place your laptop on a pile of books to bring it up to the correct height. There’s no need to purchase specialist equipment, however, an external keyboard and mouse may be worth investing in to allow a more flexible typing position.
Now take some time to organise your space by checking you have all essential tools to hand such as chargers, pens, notes, drinks and snacks. Remove all unnecessary paperwork and devices and close any applications that aren’t critical to your current assignment. Empty your head of other tasks onto paper or perhaps as notes or voice memos on your smartphone.
As well as where and how you study best, consider when you are most productive. Are you an early bird or a night owl? Experiment with a few different times, then once you’ve found a routine that works for you, you can schedule all your study sessions in advance.
If you work better with ambient noise, try Noisli – an app that allows you to custom mix your own calming sounds to play. Need complete silence to concentrate? Try a pair of noise-cancelling headphones.
It’s also important to take regular breaks to prevent boredom, eye strain and to release physical tension from sitting in the same position for a long time. Frequent breaks improve focus and reduce stress and if you can get outside for a few minutes, even better – a quick walk in nature eases brain fatigue and enhances wellbeing. Alternatively, a pause in the form of a meditation session can work just as well using tools such as Headspace, Stop Breathe Think and Calm.
And lastly, it’s useful to keep your goals in mind while studying, perhaps by placing words of motivation on your desk and to regularly reward yourself with simple treats such as a coffee with a friend or a TV break.
Once you have your new space prepared, you’ll be ready to enter ‘study mode’ and focus on reaching your full potential.
If you have a disability, long term health condition, specific learning difficulty or mental health condition that affects your studies, you can access a package of support including specialist software and equipment that’s tailored to your specific needs. Jump to our guide to see if you are eligible for the Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSA).
Get in touch with us today to see what support you could receive through the DSA.