Posted on 20 March 2012.
A good study environment is as important as the studying itself. Imagine if you are a very clean and hygienic person who is made to live in a messy house. The effect is much the same when you sit with your best intentions to study, but you are sitting in a completely wrong place. Sure, you’ve meditated, focused, and given yourself a pep talk, but the moment you sit down to study, the fragrance of the cookies being baked in the kitchen seems to overpower you, or the sounds of the children playing in the park outside thwart your best efforts to resist temptation. Pretty soon, you are as distracted as you could possibly be, and your studying has gone for a toss! Sigh… What goes wrong every time, you wonder, when you are trying your best?!
Well, you are in the wrong place. Where you sit to study matters a lot, when you are planning to get some serious studying done. The logical question that follows then, is how to create a good study environment? So here are a few pointers that will help you in making a good study environment for yourself. Take care of these, and you will find that you are doing better by the day.
Useful Pointers for Creating a Good Study Environment
a Fresh Mind and Positive Attitude
Ahh… Starts off by sounding all preachy, huh? I’ll try not to be. All I will say is that, OK, so you didn’t manage your yesterday’s quota of studying, and are now lagging behind by 2 chapters, or whatever it may be. You are frustrated, pissed off yet again at yourself or whoever, for not managing to stick to your timetable, and have decided that it is not going to work today either. But no! That’s wrong. So wrong. Yesterday is over, done with, gone, and there is no point wallowing in what you did and didn’t do. Forget all about it. Start afresh today, don’t think about the timetable, or let it build pressure on you. Do as much as you can and forget the rest. Once you get in the groove, you’ll pick up speed.
A Quiet Place
Imagine a wedding with lots of noise, or a crowded bus, or an emergency waiting room, and now place yourself bang in the middle of these scenarios with a book and pen. Ridiculous? Exactly. No point studying where you are going to be in the middle of some activity, or lots of noise and chaos, is there? You know as well as I do, that you will definitely not be able to study properly. A quiet place makes for an ideal study environment, so pick a suitably quiet place; not necessarily where you can hear a pin drop, but not where you have people screaming all around you either. At the same time, if too much quietness has you feeling all lonely, then you may try playing some soft music in the background to soothe and calm your nerves, and drown out other small noises that may distract you. A quiet place is very important in order to stay focused while studying.
Cheerful and Breezy
Would you possibly want to add to the gloom of studying, by sitting in a gloomy, suffocating place? Hell, no. As it is, if studying doesn’t inspire much enthusiasm in you, it is a good thing if you help yourself instead of hindering yourself while studying. Choose a cool, airy place, with sufficient ventilation, maybe a little breeze even, to get a smile on your face once in a while. Make the place as cheerful as possible, so that you get past the initial stages of, “This is soo boring, this place sucks, I don’t even feel like studying in this dingy place…”, and so on. Place a small plant somewhere close to your study table to add to the cheer. Eliminate all possible causes of excuses, that you know you tend to make.
Light Bright, and All is Right
No, by this I obviously do not mean string fairy lights in your room, or hang up stunning chandeliers. Just a reasonable amount of lighting that will let you read properly, without putting stress on your eyes, or making them burn and water after a while. Try picking a place by the window during the daytime, and at night, make sure that you have a light that shines brightly on the book that you are reading. This is usually the best study environment. If you have to furrow your brows and hold the book very close to your eyes to try to read something, you need more lighting than you have right now. Unless you like wearing spectacles, you will want to get that extra light.
Comfortable, But Not So Much
What I used to do is, sit on my bed, leaning against the pillows (2 of them!), legs stretched out, and a blanket pulled over them, with the book placed on my thighs! More like preparing for a day of leisure in bed than some serious studying. Clearly, my parents took care of that habit, and showed me the chair. And an excellent thing called a ‘study table’. Didn’t like it much, but I have to admit, I got a lot more studying done, and my episodes of dozing off in the middle of a boring chapter reduced drastically. Get a nice, comfortable chair for yourself that will also help you maintain a good posture. Take it from me, you will surely be studying more than you did initially.
Getting All Your Stuff Together BEFORE You Start
this is essential, very much so. Small things can really stop you from concentrating and building a flow while studying, if, after every 15 minutes or so, you have to get up to get some notes, pencils, snacks, and what not. Plan out your 2 hours, think of all the related material that you may require, and assemble it beforehand. It’s OK if you end up not using a few of the books. The one thing that amazes me is, how the moment you sit down to study, you start to feel hungry. Get a fruit or some light snack that will keep you comfortably full, without being too heavy on your tummy. Do everything possible to avoid distractions or frequent breaks while studying, and it’ll pay off.
Knowing Your Limits and Setting Targets
Just because your friend got more studying done than you did, is a silly reason to get frustrated and stop studying altogether. Conversely, if your friend has completed less than you, do not relax and stop for the day, if you know you can easily do more. Seriously, this is not a competition to see who studies how much in a day. You are you, you are not your friend. He has his limits, and you have yours. Do not set unrealistic expectations for yourself. It’ll only get you down. Stop asking your friend constantly how much they have finished, or telling them how much you have done. It’s not helping anyone. Do what you can, and let others do the same. It’s very annoying when you constantly get texts from friends that go, ” Hw mch dne? M scrwd. Nly 6 chptrs dne so far. :’( U?” Seriously, keep that damn cell phone away! Set daily targets for yourself, that you are comfortable with, and do your best to achieve these targets.
Study Smart Instead of Studying Hard
Reading through the entire text like it’s a storybook, is pointless. Read the important points, highlight important sentences, practice the diagrams and write the explanations for them in your own words instead of trying to learn the answer by rote, word to word from the text. Use techniques like mind mapping, logical linking of points, or short forms like the very simple VIBGYOR, to remember long lists and the like. Put up charts for various formulas, etc. This will increase the speed of your studying, and help you in getting more studying done in less time. Try it.
Studying can become quite bearable, if you do it right. I won’t claim that you’ll enjoy it, but the possibility cannot be denied! Now that you know how to create a good study environment, choose a place that is right for you, a time that suits you, wear comfortable clothes, and tackle those big intimidating blocks of books head on