Some students can study in their dorm rooms. They sit down at their desk, put away distractions, and get right down to business. However, there are a lot of students out there who can’t do that. The traps and shiny objects that a dorm room presents are just too challenging to overcome. It’s easy to see why. The dorm room is a family room, bedroom, closet, and office. There’s TV’s, computers, friends, video games, and more. When it comes to studying and getting school work done, students need to create a space that will allow them to be as successful as possible. Below are some factors for students to consider to put themselves in the right space (literally and figuratively) to be productive and effective.
Location: Where is the studying going to take place? The study room at the end of the hall? The library? Starbucks? An empty classroom on campus? The location that a student picks to study can be crucial to their ability to get started.
Visual Field: This goes right along with location. What is in the visual field of your work space? Are there people walking around the library distracting you? Is your desk clean and workable? It’s important to be aware of your own distractibility and create an environment that takes distractions out of play.
Noise: What kind of noise is optimal for studying? Headphones or no headphones? Is the TV on in the backroom? Is silence the best environment for you? Find the sound situation that helps increase focus and optimizes learning.
Technology: This is a big one. Where is technology when you are studying? Do you need your phone? Do you need your computer? Should they even be present in the room at all? Do they help or hurt? Often times, the cell phone has to be left behind to get “in the zone.” It is one of the biggest distractions.
Energy: What do you need to have the most energy? Consider when you’re drinking your coffee (or taking medication, if applicable). Make sure you have any food or drink that is needed to avoid movement and distraction for a long time. If you need a specific snack or drink, then make sure you have it! Once your “in the zone,” don’t give yourself any reasons to disrupt it.
I often have students complete an exercise where they write down their ideal environment; one that allows them to initiate their work and maintain a steady stream of production. By being aware of our work limitations and setting up an environment that addresses these issues, getting started will become much easier. For students that struggle to get started, it is important to put themselves in the best position to succeed.