16 October 2017

Effective Study Environment

In my last Thistle article I discussed the difference between homework and study as well as the myth of multitasking. I wrote that there are several other factors which lead to producing the most conducive location to complete study, which is not laying on one's bed. I thought it would be worth sharing some considerations for an effective study environment.

This issues that need to be checked are:

  • Appropriate furniture and lighting. It helps enormously to have a desk devoted to study, rather than have to clear up all your books from a table used for another purpose. It is important too that the chair be comfortable (but not so comfortable as to lead to slumber) and the work area well-lit. Poor lighting causes eye strain and gives you an excellent excuse to stop working. Trying to study in bean bags, or on your bed is not a good idea.
  • As mentioned previously, identifying and minimising distractions. There are some distractions that are easy to identify and remove - such as trying to study with a mobile phone nearby, or being logged on to social media or even music going full tilt. Others may be hard to remove, such as the presence of small children or noises coming from somewhere else. The main issue here is to identify what factors prevent you from starting or continuing work, and to make some effort to reduce them.
  • People vary in what they find distracting. There are times when quiet background music can block out other household noises. But don't kid yourself that heavy metal music with the volume on 11 through headphones is doing your study any favours.
  • The radio is generally not very helpful. Radio presenters and advertisers are paid vast amounts of money because they have the ability to attract your attention. It's a mistake to think you can focus on study when skilled attention seekers are demanding your brain.
  • Make sure that you have all the things you need to do homework (pens, rulers, books and so on) in the one place. This means time spent procrastinating whilst finding what you need will be reduced.
  • Finally, get some fuel. Have a snack before you start and drink water while studying. Aim to drink 10 glasses of water each day. A well-watered brain is a smarter brain.

By studying in the most conducive environment, you may even be able to reduce the time it takes you to complete what you need to. Now that must be an attractive proposition.

Taking the time over the upcoming break to set up the environment described would help to ensure a great start to Winter Term.

Mr Dean Shadgett
Head of Senior School