Someone in a study session in front of their computer

How To Build a Study Space for Better Focus

Where you actually hit the books can be a big factor behind how well your studying goes.
June 22, 2021
5 mins read

Studying requires complete concentration, but that can be hard to accomplish if your study space is messy, loud or disorganized. A study done for the Memory & Cognition journal found that the place you study impacts how you remember information. To keep up your study momentum long-term, build a space that promotes better focus with these eight tips.

1. Pick a Place and Claim it

Whether your study location includes a closed door, an open living room or a noisy cafe, keep that spot for yourself. Your brain will eventually catch on that it has to switch into “study mode” for the time you’re in that space. It’s okay to move around within the space, but don’t swap locations too often, or you’ll need to adjust to the mental jolt that comes with change.

2. Buy Flowers or Plants

Find a flower service that offers same day flower delivery, put your delivered flowers in a vase and get to work. Why plants? Many flowers and foliage improve air quality and promote calmness, which is the exact mindset you’ll need to retain information. If you’re traveling outside of the house, purchase a low-maintenance succulent or sit by a plant present in that space.

3. Recreate the Testing Environment

A school’s testing environment changes depending on the institution and class, but you’ll either be in a windowless lecture hall or a traditional classroom with large windows. It helps to mimic the environment you’ll be tested in, as that can help you recall memorized material. Choose smells, temperature and noises that remind you of that space to improve information retention.

4. Opt for Natural Light Over Florence Bulbs

This step may contradict the last one, but if you can’t recreate the testing environment it’s better to find a space with natural light. Working under fluorescent light bulbs can become pretty depressing, but the sun is a natural mood enhancer thanks to its vitamin D. However, don’t position your desk or chair to look at a window as that can become really distracting.

5. Buy a Comfortable Chair and Desk

Sitting on the couch with a laptop in your lap will feel comfortable, but that comfort can distract you from studying, make you feel sleepy, and won’t simulate any testing facility. Instead, buy a desk and a chair that’s fit for long study sessions. For example, an adjustable desk will encourage good posture, while a desk chair with mild support won’t provide discomfort. So give yourself some self love and invest in a piece that can provide long-term physical comfort.

6. Use Ambient Noise or Instrumental Music

While studying, it can be helpful to put on a playlist with ambient or instrumental music because it provides non-distracting background noise. Lyrical music is tempting to sing along to, but without lyrics you won’t get pulled away from your task. Ambient music is especially helpful, because it can imitate the sound of a busy cafe, a lecture hall or a typical backyard.

7. Put Away Your Phone

Of all the distractions that could pull you away from an intense studying session, your phone is the most tempting. You could spend an hour scrolling through social media before you notice all the time you’ve wasted, which can cut your time short or demotivate you. Set a time on your phone for the length of the studying session and put it out of sight or shut it off completely.

8. Try To Stay Positive

Studying can feel like a major negative in anyone’s life because it requires you to spend your days looking over material you’ve already covered. Studying is a drag — no one denies that — but remaining positive can help you stay focused. If you’re finding it difficult to think on the bright side, try to imagine how good it will feel when you graduate and snag that dream job.

As another alternative, you could add photos of your friends/family/spouse, quotes from your favorite poet, or toys and objects that make you smile. Just make sure they aren’t distracting!

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