Gumtree Study Hacks | A student’s guide to the perfect study environmentWednesday 29 April 2015, by The Media Team
We all have our own unique habits when it comes to studying. Just as there are a wide variety of courses and subjects to choose from, there are also many different ways to study, suited to different types of people. What you need to remember though is that your study environment is equally as important as your study method – in order to optimise the way you revise, you need to optimise the environment that you are in, minimising distractions and allowing you to focus and hold on to the information you read. By taking all your senses into consideration, you can design the perfect study haven that could take you from above average to astounding.
- Sight – Take time to create a permanent work environment somewhere; a ‘study zone’ that is uncluttered and neutral, which allows you to step away from the outside distractions and temptations of everyday socialising or relaxing. This could be a corner of your room or a quiet place in your home. If you are studying in your bedroom, pick a spot away from the bed and introduce items that will help with the process of studying – like a pin board for your notes, or your own mini bookshelf for your textbooks. Make sure you don’t over clutter though – you need to organise your space in order to organise your mind. Harsh or poor lighting can also negatively impact your ability to absorb information and stay focused so make sure you get a good lamp for your desk and avoid straining your eyes.
- Sound – We all know that sound can be a big distraction – your favourite song being played on the radio or overhearing the conversations of those around you can instantly break your concentration. Our suggestion would be to create a study playlist of music with limited or no lyrics, that won’t send you to sleep but will also keep you calm and balanced, rather than excitable. Or try one of the many study playlists on Spotify or websites like Rainy Mood, Coffitivity or Noisli to create the perfect working ambience for you. Whatever you choose, make sure your sound system is delivering crisp, undisturbed music to keep you focused.
- Touch – Get comfy but not too comfy! Select a sturdy chair that you can sit in for long periods of time, without the risk of relaxing completely and falling asleep. As soon as you start feeling restless or uncomfortable, get up, stretch your legs and change your perspective but make sure you set a time limit on your break and don’t start an activity that you know you won’t be able to easily abandon, such as napping or watching tv. When it comes to the end of your study session – make sure your head hits the pillow at a reasonable time and that you get enough sleep. Sleep is incredibly important and our brains don’t function effectively when they are denied a rest.
- Taste – Treat your body well, as it helps to feed the mind! Avoid binging on junk food, which might be quick and easy but will inevitably affect your ability to stay focused and energised. Good brain foods include oily fish, eggs, fresh fruit & vegetables, peanut butter and fresh coffee.
- Smell – Smell can be a powerful memory aid (like when you get a whiff of suntan lotion and remember the beach). Try wearing a particular perfume while studying and put on the same scent for the exam, to transport you back to the work you’ve done in preparation. Or why not get some scented candles to create a calming atmosphere; light the candles just before your study session, to signal to your brain that it’s time to focus again.
- Digital Sense – Although we advise against having your mobile too close at hand when you are studying, there are As technology becomes a bigger part of our lives every day, we have some suggestions for several helpful apps that can help boost concentration and relaxation for studying, such as:
- Headspace – mindfulness for beginners, offering video and audio content to fit your time / needs
- Calm – provides meditation breaks between study, whether you have only 2 minutes or 20
- Lumosity – brain training through games that help enhance your cognition and mental skills
- GPS for the Soul – detects stress levels and gets you back on track
- TeamViz – helps you structure study, allowing for breaks and balance versus burnout
- 1-3-5 List – creates a simple checklist to help you achieve goals: one big task, three medium tasks and five small tasks
- Self Control – blocks access to distracting websites so you can concentrate on your revision and not on internet procrastination!
In general, try to engage as many senses as you can while you study, as it will wake up every corner of your mind and ensure the material you are studying will stay with you.