Creating the Perfect Place to Study

Where is the best place to study? You may see people studying at the park, in the middle of a crowded cafeteria or while sitting in front of the TV, but that does not mean those are good places to study. The best place to study is the place where you can get actual studying done. While you can study virtually anywhere, you want to choose a regular place to study that is fairly quiet and free from distractions.

Learning Distracters

No matter where you choose to study, you are likely to encounter learning distracters. These include elements such as loud noise, poor lighting, uncomfortable temperatures, people vying for your attention and electronic devices that try to take your attention away from your studying. Different studying environments contain different distracters. While some distracters can be removed, such as adding a lamp if the room is too dark, you must learn to study when other distractors are present.

Studying at Home

At home, you may find yourself studying on the living room couch, at the kitchen table or in your bedroom. Wherever you study at home, chances are you are surrounded by distractions. Siblings want to pull your attention away from your homework, a show on television can catch your attention and your bed may call your name, begging you to stop studying and just take a nap. To make studying at home successful, pay attention to these dos and don’ts:

  • Do study in the same spot on a regular basis. When you sit at the kitchen table or at a desk in your room, your body will know it is time to study.
  • Do let your parents and siblings know when you start studying so they know to be quiet around you and to wait until you are finished to start a conversation.
  • Do study in area with good lighting. Trying to study in low light will hurt your eyes and make you feel sleepy.
  • Do your chores before you study. Cleaning up the house and getting your chores out of the way will help you focus more on studying.
  • Do take regular breaks. Study in 10-15 minute increments, then get up to have a snack, step outside or talk to a family member for a few minutes before getting back to work.
  • Do choose a chair you can sit in for an extended period of time. A chair that does not move and that has a bit of cushioning is best.
  • Don’t study with the TV on. It will almost always pull your attention away from your studying.
  • Don’t play music while you study, except in cases where you need to drown out noise. In that case, play soft music that will not take your attention away from your studying.
  • Don’t leave your cell phone on. Friends and family members can call or text and distract you.
  • Don’t study on your bed. Your bed may be comfortable, but it is too tempting to nod off to sleep during your study session.
  • on’t always study alone. Two heads are better than one. While you will do some studying on your own, ask a family member to quiz you while you study or invite a friend over so you can study together.

Studying in the Classroom

In the classroom, your focus should be on listening to the teacher and taking good notes. However, there are a lot of distracters that can make learning difficult. For example, friends may try to pass you notes and other students may talk while the teacher is talking. To help minimize distractions in the classroom:

  • Ask to sit closer to the board to make sure you can clearly see what is on the board and hear what the teacher is saying.
  • Avoid sitting next to friends who will distract you from paying attention.
  • Don’t crowd your desk with pencils, notebooks, textbooks and everything else you have brought with you. Just take out what you need.
  • Make eye contact with your teacher and involve yourself in the lesson, nodding your head to show you understand the lesson and regularly asking questions.
  • Bring a light jacket or sweater to put on if the classroom gets too cold.

Studying with Noise: Can it be done?

Whether studying at home, in the classroom or in a public place, sometimes you cannot get rid of the noise. There are people who are able to concentrate no matter how much noise surrounds them, but for most people this is not the case. If you cannot move to avoid the noise, try to block it out with a pair of ear plugs or noise-cancelling headphones. Playing some soft music or pink noise, a special frequency of sound designed to help people concentrate, can also block out the excess noise. Standing up a few textbooks or boxes to create a sort of “box” to study in may also help keep out the noise.

What Distracts You?

Every study space has its own unique distractions and every student is affected by different factors. The place you study may be noise-free, but have poor lighting while a friend may have perfect lighting and be forced to study with younger siblings running around. Next time you sit down to study, pay attention to the different factors that take your attention away from the studying you have to do. Then work on getting rid of those distracters to make sure you are maximizing your ability to get work done.

Suggested Exercises
  1. Draw a picture of your current study spot and create a list of everything you need to make it comfortable.
  2. If you do not currently have a study spot, write out a plan for creating one in your home or some place you can go every day, such as the library.
  3. Make a list of all the materials you need to study (textbook, notebook, pencil, etc.) and items to put away when it is time to study (cell phone, mp3 player, etc.).
  4. Find examples of soft music or pink noise to learn what type of music is acceptable to listen to when trying to study in noisy places.

Discussion Questions
  1. Where’s your favorite study spot? What are the pros and cons of that spot?
  2. What are two ways you can improve your current study space?
  3. Can some people really study with music?
  4. What can you do to make it easier to pay attention in the classroom?