There are those of us that spend most of our lives this time of the year in the library, but if you’re anything like me, you enjoy studying at home more than struggling for a spot in the congested turkey. So, this week, I’m here to help you set up the most productive at-home study area possible:
- Keep it Simple, Stupid!
- Bring in some Green
- Let there be light
- Ninety Degrees, it’s always the right angle
- Make it personal
- Bonus Tip: Resist the bed!
The one thing you really want to avoid when studying at home is unnecessary distraction. So, make sure your desk is clean and tidy, with only the things that you need in the vicinity. This goes for your virtual desktop as well, make sure only necessary documents and programs are open and cleaning up your folders is only right-click away. Also, when you’re setting up your desk, keep it facing away from the rest of your distracting room, either facing a neutral wall or a window, which you should look out of every now and then, to give your eyes a rest from focusing on your computer screen. That is, assuming that you don’t live across the street from the most interesting man in the world.
As Martin proclaims to Bart while setting up his study sanctuary, “no study area is complete without adequate plant life.” And he was on to something about more than just its visual appeal. A 2011 study showed that having plants in your workspace may improve how you think and boost your ability to maintain attention. My suggestion would be to get a plant that requires little to no attention, like a lucky bamboo. It requires very little maintenance and can hold onto their healthy green colour, even without watering and sunlight for weeks at a time.
This is a pretty straightforward rule, but it’s gravely underestimated. Many of us, as the students that we are, study at night and in the wee hours of the morning and I’m sure in doing so, a lot of you may turn off all lights in the room expect for your computer screen. While it may seem that this will keep you focused on what’s going on right in front of you, this will put greater strain on your eyes and you will tire much more quickly. Be sure to use multiple sources of light, if possible. Have a lamp on your desk on, as well as an overhead light on in the room. Here are a few tips courtesy of Apartment Therapy.
Ergonomics are important for ensuring that you’re always comfortable, and subsequently, as productive in your studying as you can be. Make sure you adjust your chair, desk, and computer screen to ensure that your posture are seating position are ideal for maximum comfort and to avoid getting sore and tired. In general, ninety is the magic number for your three major joints(hips, elbows, and knees), and you’ll want to make sure that your feet are flat on the floor and your computer screen is fifteen to twenty degrees below your eyesight. Reference the diagram below to make sure you get it right.
Make your study desk appealing. The benefit of your own desk over to a library one is that it’s yours! Put a picture of you and your friends or family that makes you happy on your desk, hang a poster on the wall nearby behind it, maybe something motivational that’ll keep you going when you’re feeling that U of T has defeated you(I know you’ve felt it).
Being comfortable is important to keeping productive while studying, and so it may seem that catching up on a reading or two in bed is a good idea. Sadly, as much as I want it to be true, it’s almost always a bad idea. Your bed is for sleeping, and that’s what you should be training your mind to think. The human brain associates certain activities with certain places and positions, and if you study for hours in your bed, then you will begin to correlate lying in your bed to studying, and this can wreak havoc when you’re actually trying to get to sleep. That is, aside from the fact that you’re likely to fall asleep while “studying” in your bed, and get nothing done. So do yourself a favour, stick to sitting at your desk.