Studying for exams and getting essays done on time at uni can often be difficult at the best of times, however if you attempt to do it at the wrong place at the wrong time, it can be even more monotonous and troublesome. If you make simple changes to where and how you do your work, it will save you time and your sanity. 

The first step in improving your ideal environment is to observe what you usually do and figure out if it is working out for you or not. If it isn’t, figure out why. From experience one of the worst places to study is in the bedroom. Obviously many bedrooms at university are fitted with a study desk, however staying in your room for hours on end may cause a serious case of cabin fever which can leave you feeling worse. 

As most students know, staying in your room for too long is a rookie mistake both for study and socialising.

The other common mistake students make when studying in their room is the endless number of distractions. You intended on research or even simply note taking, then you realise you are hungry, sleepy or bored. You decide instead to cook, clean your room, watch Netflix and have a nap. Then you realise you did nothing but procrastinate and you panic. If you leave your flat to study you will feel a lot better, being more focused and organised.

For many students (including myself), it is more productive to complete work somewhere that is designated for studying such as the library or the I.T. lab.

The advantages of going to the library are that you have the necessary texts available to you, with a plethora of books and journals at your disposal. Everyone else there is there for similar reasons, so they will also require a quiet, clean, well-lit place to study just like you.

As long as you follow the library or I.T. lab rules and respect your fellow students’ need to study, it is an ideal environment to be productive.   

Regardless of where you study, you can still face obstacles. As was mentioned before, procrastination is a common issue for many students, especially when it comes to gadgets. Your laptop is one the most important tools for research on Study Direct, contacting lecturers, typing essays, and handing in essays through Turnitin.

However your laptop is also used for recreational purposes such as Facebook, contacting friends and family, streaming shows and videos, playing games and randomly looking up unrelated topics online.

One of the best solutions to getting distracted online is downloading an app that can block certain URLs for a specified amount of time. I recommend ‘Cold Turkey’ since it is free and you can choose which websites you want blocked and how long for. Of course you must also be careful with how much you use your phone. Turn off your phone and keep it away from your desk since if the phone is out of sight, it will likely be out of mind. 

Another obstacle which is commonly faced is forgetting important things for studying. When you are stuck for something and need it immediately such as glasses, go back and get them, but do not leave your bag or laptop unattended because it may either be stolen or moved by disgruntled students who want the last desk available. If it is non-essential, do something else with what you have. Always pack the day before and double check if you have everything you need. 

The final thing to consider when studying outside of your flat is how long you want to study for. Try arriving by noon because you will have more of a chance of finding a desk in comparison to 3pm.

If you are thinking in squeezing more time even though you are feeling sleepy at night, just stop where you are, go home and get sleep. When you are tired, you will not be able to remember as much as you wanted and are more likely to make mistakes in your work than if you were wide awake. 

The most important advice in finding the ideal study environment is to find a place that will help keep you motivated and productive to maximise your grades in the best way possible.

Louise Clancy

Image by Christopher John SSF

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