Your bedroom desk will be the place you spend (or should spend) most of your time as an undergraduate. I have made the extra effort every year to make my study environment the kind of space I want to be in, and not only does it need to be visually pleasing but practical too. Here are my tips…
1. Be Aware of Your Style
Everyone has a different way of working, some of us can deal with background noise and some prefer complete silence. If you don’t know any of your preferences, then take time to figure this out as it can impact on your productivity.
Keep track of what you are doing and how productive your study session has been. Is what you are doing conductive to your learning? If you didn’t get much done then think about why that might have been, re-evaluate and try something new the next time. This way you are constantly improving yourself and helping to create your perfect environment.
As I have previously said, some of us can deal with noise when we study and others can’t. Once you have established this you can deal with the issue of music more much easily. Maybe it depends on what kind of work you are actually doing, or maybe your preferences change day-to-day, but either way make sure that you are aware of what is working for you and what isn’t.
I would suggest not to play your favourite songs on loop through your headphones using YouTube or Spotify without a playlist, as you can be distracted by changing songs or actively listening instead of working. Try creating playlists that suit your taste, or what might distract you the least but still be enjoyable to hear. If you have Spotify Premium (£4.99 a month for students!) you can listen to my own study playlist.
3. Declutter Your Desk
A cluttered and unclean desk will not aid your productivity. Instead aim to clear your clutter and clean your desk at least once a week, this creates a fresh space and a clear mind and realigns your focus. Also bear this in mind for your laptop too, sort out your folders and your desktop regularly so you can easily access files. If you have limited space in your room, or you are a bit of a stationary-hoarder, there are a few crucial items to utilise your space and to make your desk look like it should appear on Pinterest.
- Draw dividers: for those things you just can’t categorise.
- A plant: bring the outdoors in.
- A coaster: obviously, and your favourite mug to match!
- Labels: either in the form of a label-maker if you are fancy, or just the usual kind to mark up your text books and folders and save time rooting for those lecture notes.
- Sticky notes: in a block these can be easy to rip off to keep track of reminders or useful thoughts.
- Pinboard: ever have stray notes or letters you want to keep in sight? Decorate with photos or keepsakes to uplift those exam blues.
- A candle: everyone needs a bit of zen and a nice scent.
- Art: in the form of a quote or a framed image to tie up your theme.
Work can be overwhelming when you have several deadlines in the same month. I find that if I don’t split my up my work I can spend too much time on one task, leaving the others behind, or I might even spend too much time working and not give myself enough breaks.
To achieve a good balance why not create a weekly timetable? You can easily create one yourself, draw one up on paper or even find templates online.
Use lots of colours to fill-in and stick on your wall or pinboard when it is complete (and remember to schedule in breaks or times when you are not free to study).
Creating the perfect study environment isn’t just about what you do, but also what you prevent from happening.
Stress can be an inevitable part of university life, but keeping it at bay or balanced is crucial. Some people need stress to stay motivated or driven, but too much can negatively impact all of us. By planning your work with a timetable you can ensure that all your work is completed, keeping the stress of finishing your work on time, at bay.
Take regular breaks and learn to shut off. You are still human (and not a working machine!), so schedule in time to see your friends, get outside and stay normal to feel your best. Regular breaks from your laptop or reading can also help your physical health. Remember to stay hydrated and keep a water bottle next to you at all times. Eye strain can also be helped by having the correct lighting at your desk such as lamps or reading lights.
6. Your Environment
If you can control certain aspects of your environment then do so! Make sure to put your phone away from you or off to prevent checking your social media. If you are an avid email checker like myself, schedule in slots to reply to emails or set an automatic response to feel better about late replies. Just because you might get notifications doesn’t mean they are as urgent as your work.
Keep your surroundings at a good temperature if you can. If you have no control over the temperature of where you are studying wear layers so you are able to help how you warm or cold you are.
And most of all, remember to try and enjoy the work you are doing…it might not be as impossible as you think!