General, Places, Study

Location, Location, Location!

With less than a month left until exams, it’s officially exam-studying season.

 

If you’re anything like me, studying probably isn’t your favourite activity. However, there are a few ways to study more efficiently to ensure that you don’t waste unnecessary time. Over the course of the next few weeks, I will share some tips to help you boost your productivity while studying. This week, let’s start off with the basics – your study space.

 

Your study environment is one of the most influential factors that directly affects your efficiency.

 

When picking a place to study, keep three things in mind:

 

1) Pick a study area that minimizes distractions

Distractions are the number one culprit to lowering your productivity. A few weeks ago, I posted about strategies to stay focused; the main technique is to first identify what distracts you, and then implement a plan to reduce those distractions. A lot of distractions arise from your surroundings. Therefore, by finding a study area with minimal distractions, you can increase both your focus and productivity.

Personally, I would love to study in the comfort of my own home. However, I know for a fact that I get distracted way too easily at home –  I’m more likely to end up cooking extravagant dinners or cleaning my room than studying. Therefore, to minimize these distractions, I study on campus.

2) Find a study space where you can sit comfortably for at least an hour.

Let’s be honest, it’s nearly impossible to concentrate on your readings if it’s freezing cold inside, if your chair is too stiff, if your table is wobbly. Until you are physically comfortable in your study space, it is hard to focus. Along with physical comfort, you should ensure that you are mentally relaxed in your surroundings. Sometimes, a physically comfortable place is still not a suitable study space because it doesn’t make you feel at ease. For example, I dislike studying in large libraries because, although the seats are comfy, the silence overwhelms me and hinders my concentration. Therefore, I much prefer studying in a computer lab, which has nice seats and is quiet enough to help me focus without being overwhelmingly silent.

Disclaimer: Make sure that your study space isn’t toooo comfortable (e.g., a couch or bed) becuase you may get sleepy and lose focus.

3) Ensure that your study area has enough resources to help you

This step is very important. First, make a list of all the resources you need to help you succeed (study materials, equipment, people to ask for help, etc.). Then, make sure that the study space you picked has those resources. For example, if you need to access a computer or printer when studying, make sure your study space has one available. Alternatively, if you need your laptop, check if there are accessible power outlets. If you need help with understanding content, ensure you can contact (or meet up) with your friends, TAs, or professors.

 

Photo of University College Library (Laidlaw Library)

The University College Library is one of my favourite places for independent study. Picture taken from: https://onesearch.library.utoronto.ca/library-info/UC_LAIDLAW

 

With that said, my two favourite study spots are the engineering computer labs and the UC library. Both places are physically comfortable to study in. I study in the engineering computer labs when I need to use the school computers, or when I need to ask friends for help. However, when I need quiet independent study time, I go to the UC library, where it is highly unlikely for me to bump into someone I know, hence minimizing the chances of me getting distracted by socializing.

 

What are some of your favourite study spaces? Are they efficient? Let me know in the comments below :)

– Slesha