Whether it’s prepping for a big exam or a small test, what and how you study is just as important as where you study. A curated and carefully set up space actually helps learners retain information better and faster.
Why have a study space at all?
Contrary to belief, an overly comfortable spot like say; your bed is not a conducive way to kick off your study time, let alone get through all the material (we think everyone’s probably familiar with that rule). Did you know that your brain actually craves designated spaces? Just like a lounge is curated for hosting or relaxation, so too are study environments. Having designated areas helps your brain create a strict divide between work, play, getting creative or just relaxing for example. When one is sitting down in a curated spot, you’re giving your brain context on what it can expect and what’s about to happen.
So, for all the “study wherever” learners out there, there is some merit in moving from duvet to desk. Here are a few things consider when setting up your study space.
Create a conducive learning environment
As with any room, we curate spaces to serve a specific purpose and a space to study in should be no exception. Consider the essentials and build you space from the ground up.
Study space essentials
To minimise distractions, start with the basics and build the space from there.
- Desk and chair:a no-brainer, but an important foundation. Any workspace should come up between your waist and ribcage when seated with a simple chair that fits the height of the desk.
- Clock: Don’t be afraid of monitoring your time. Clocks can be used as a tool for motivation andprovide a very simple way to help you stay focused and get the job done.
- Wall space: Utilise the space that’s available, that includes the walls around your study set-up. See it as a blank canvas to either help personalise your space, put up motivational quotes or use it prop up notes and goals.
- Shelving: Desks can easily become cluttered unnecessarily. Creating a designated space for textbooks, pictures and even awards helps maximise your desk space, keeps your resources within reach and helps set the study scene.
- Stationary: Choose pens, pencil, markers and notepads that you’ll actually enjoy using.While learning might not always be fun, the tools you use can instil a bit of excitement.
The perfect lighting:
If you can’t see your paper, you’re already making it difficult for yourself. Natural light is your best bet, but if you are confided to a space with a bulb chances are, you’ll retain information better in cold light.
There’s actually a science to it. A German study published in The National Center for Biotechnology looked at the effect of colour temperature and brightness to determine students’ productivity. The research found that students were more creative under warm light (3000k) yet concentrated better under cold light (6000k).
If you can, adjusting your study space to the ideal temperature also helps stimulate your brain, and yes, there is an optimal temperature. The Environmental Protection Agency’s Special Achievement Award winners set out to prove this theory with several experiments. They placed students in different climate-controlled rooms: at 16°C, 22°C and 28°C and concluded that the students in both the warmer and cooler rooms tested poorly compared to the student in the 22°C room.
An ergonomic study space:
If anything, arranging a space according to a learner’s build is the most important thing to consider. A poor study station can lead to shoulder, neck, wrist, and elbow aches causing the person to loath studying all together.
- A work surface should be about waist-height.
- When seated, the person should be able to rest their elbows on the table without hunching.
- Feet should be flat on the floor.
- When working off of a computer, position the monitor about 45 – 75cm away at eye level.
Wrists should be typing in a neutral position.
There are pros and cons to the presence of technology in a study space, but good boundaries can help you stick to the plan and minimise distractions. Stick to digital aids, platforms and extra online exercises that are simple to navigate. Don’t go down rabbit hole of video reels and be mindful of the pitfalls.
An online tutoring platform like Paper Videomakes navigating through study material easy and takes learners from grade 8 to 12 through video lessons that cover challenging subjects like Maths, Physical Science, Life Science and Accounting. Easy navigation, fewer distractions, more time to stay focussed and get through the work. Have a look at the easy navigation and online tutoring experience that comes with signing up for a Paper Video account.
Making a good study environment great
As the saying goes, different strokes for different folks, while the basics are essential there are a few tips and trick you can pick up to help facilitate your study method and environment.
Tip 1: Minimise distractions
Remove items on your desk or in your line of sight that remind you of “home” or “holiday if you think it you’ll want to go there. Our minds do wander, it’s normal, we remember things and have great ideas. Don’t let these thoughts distract you, keeping a pen and paper on the side to write them down gets them out of your head and you back on track.
Tip 2: Start with a quiet space
Pick non-traffic areas and avoid spaces like the family room, kitchen or common areas where people will be coming and going. And if we’ve said it once we’ll say it again; don’t study in your bed. Studies have shown that studying in the same place where you sleep not only impacts how you sleep, but also when you go to bed.
Tip 3: Stimulate your senses
The more you activate your senses, the better your brain retains information. From plants to candles and inspirational quotes to the pen you hold and the music you hear – everything impacts your brain in different ways so experiment and see what sets your creativity free and what stimulates your study brain.
Tip 4: Set up a routine
Our bodies and minds have a hard time adjusting when we jump from one task to the next. “To make the transition a little faster and get the most out of your time, create a routine that helps you concentrate,” advises Elizabeth Malson, president of the Amslee Institute. Whether it’s noise-cancelling headphones, setting up your desk or even reading a mantra before you start, the key is to find a ritual that helps you settle in and focus.
Tip 5: See what works
What works for one won’t work for the other. Keep your study space as clean (or as messy) as you like, the trick is not having to prep you study space before you start studying as this is what leads to procrastination. So, make sure you leave your desk the way you started and make re-organising your space part of the end process.
Make the most of small spaces
The current climate has us all sharing spaces, big and small. The key, however, is to clearly set up a designated area and get creative with how, where and how much of the space you share.
This doesn’t just refer to binders and books, we often have to share, and one office needs to double up as a learner’s study spot. Divide and conquer, whether it be desk mats or small compartments, clearly designated areas no matter how small (or poorly marked) create a structure and structure is great for giving the brain context.
Utilise your space wisely
From shelving and wall space to standing desks and portable drawer sets, there are a few nifty things and movable gadgets that can help dress up and dress any space down.
Set the scene
Sometimes it’s not where you are, but what you have that sets the scene. Setting up with notebook your study pen even a desk plant can help change an ordinary space into a study haven.
Study assistance, wherever your space is set up
The ideal environment is key, but the right material helps unlock, motivate and smoothen out even the messiest of desks or study environments. Wherever you set up to study Paper Video gives learners study assistance and access to expert teachers and lessons with a bank of material to help stay the course and stay focussed.
Sign up for a Free Paper Video Account to get you started.
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