Having a good study space is extremely important to success, but seemingly complicated if you don’t have a lot of space, or even your own space. When you have a baby, you have the struggle of finding a quiet place that won’t be overtaken with toys and kid-clutter, plus you know that, whatever place you choose, your space is going to be dedicated to more than just studying; paying bills, budgeting, planning and other tasks will also have to take place in that area. This is all considering that you’re lucky enough to have an area that you can dedicate to just productivity and you’re not just stuck at the kitchen table or huddled in the back of a Chuck-E-Cheese, half studying, half watching your kids.
Just because you may not have a desk dedicated to studying, it does not mean that you can’t make your own study space, or customize each study space to make it work for you. The proof is in the pudding: if you have a clean space that you dedicate to just studying, then you’re more likely to stay on task, but you can make that space anywhere that works for you; the library, a certain side of the kitchen table, the closet, or the back of Chuck-E-Cheese. As long as you have what you need to let you know it’s time to study, you can pretty much customize any area to be YOUR study space.
So, what do you need?
A lack of distraction is imperative to making the space work for you. Make sure it’s somewhere where you aren’t going to hear every toy thrown at the wall, but somewhere that you still feel comfortable that you can hear your kid(s) when necessary. This may mean dedicating certain spaces to your kid(s) during study hours as well, so that you can focus. You may say that seven o’clock is play time in their rooms before bed so you can get some reading done in the living room, or (if they’re older) tell them to go play outside on Saturdays from two to four, and they cannot run in and out of the house during that time─they have to stay outside. You could even let that study time be the time that they are allowed to play with their electronics, like their iPad or Nintendo DS. I’ve definitely had moments where I let PD play with his iPad in the living room while I study at the dining room table, and it works great! He loves having a chance to play some interactive educational games while I love that he’s being quiet and non-destructive; win-win.
Key pieces that you can carry with you or that you keep close by to signify that it’s time to study. Maybe it’s a himalayan salt lamp that you only plug in or turn on when it’s time to study, or you set up a timer or background on your phone that you prop up and look at through study sessions; find something or a few things that signify study time for you. For me, it’s a cup of coffee or tea and a yellow highlighter (I really love the clear view ones lately). It seems like two very simple things, but I know when I have these two things that I’m ready for a long study session and I don’t feel ready to study without these items. I’ve actually lost precious study hours because I’ve tried to study without these two items and find myself ten unproductive minutes later getting up to make a cup of tea or to hunt down a yellow highlighter. These items may seem nonchalant to the normal person, but they are my key pieces to a successful study session. You may already have an item or a few items like this that you didn’t even notice!
Comfort when you’re getting ready to study. It may seem like it goes without saying, but this is not the time for your cute, but hardly breathable jeans or to wear the shoes that look mad fly, but constantly pinch and give you pinky-toe blisters without fail. Study time is certainly the time for leggings, sweatpants, slippers and messy buns. Be careful with pajamas or pajama bottoms, because they could subconsciously make you more ready for bed than for a good study session, but pj bottoms are definitely better than gut-cutting jeans. You may also want to remember to carry around a sweater or something to help warm up if you find yourself in a study space that is just too cold to concentrate in, but is perfect otherwise.
If you’re someone who studies at school during daycare hours (like me) or squeezes in some study time at work, then do your best to make your wardrobe comfy yet functional. There are plenty of legging designs that look like jeans, stretchy black slacks and shoes that can be comfortable while being functional (like loafers or flats). Just make sure that your concentration will be on your notes and not on how bad you really want to change.
Lighting that makes you want to stay focused, not take a nap. Natural light is always the best option, but if you can’t go natural, having a nice, bright desk lamp should do the trick. White light (or 6500K dynamic lighting) seems to be the best for concentration, so keep that in mind when finding somewhere to study. If you want to be able to switch between optimal study light and relax lighting, you may give a study lamp a try that has both settings, like the TaoTronics 14 W LED desk lamp.
Study music may help drown out any sounds that you don’t find optimal for studying (like rowdy kids playing) and will help set the mood for a good study session, even when there is a lot of background noise. I really like finding lofi beats on Spotify or YouTube, but whatever music really helps you engage is best. You’ll have the best time if you find music that has very few or doesn’t have any lyrics, so that you can focus on the words on the page rather than the words going into your ears.
A nice smell isn’t required for a great study space, but it definitely enhances the area that you’re in. If you’re like me, you may really enjoy lighting up a scented candle when it’s time to concentrate for a calming ambiance and a great scent to cover up any lingerings of a freshly-changed poopy diaper (speaking of poopy diapers, did you know that you can get a 30-day free trial of Amazon’s family program, which includes 20% off of diaper subscriptions? That’s on top of the free two-day shipping, exclusive baby registry benefits and exclusive coupons for just $99 a year, or $8.25 a month!).
What tricks do you use to optimize your study space? Do you have a desk that you can personalize, or are you someone who has to make the most of whatever area you can find to get your focus on? If you do have a nice study space, send a picture so that we can see all of the different unique places that we all create to learn in.
Please let me know what you’d like to see more of! The end of the semester is quickly approaching, so if there are any big projects you’d like to see out of this blog, like an e-book or an online class, please let me know!
I’ve also uploaded the first college parent video to YouTube! Please check it out and let me know what you think. Hopefully you find it a helpful addition to the blog.
Have a productive week,
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