School is officially back in session, which means it’s time to retrain your brain to make time for studying. Creating a dedicated study space and schedule will help you make the most of your time and help keep you accountable throughout the year. You don’t need a ton of room — you just need the right tools and a little creativity.
- Dedicate a space.
Finding the perfect spot to get your learn on boils down to two things: 1) understanding your personal study style and 2) evaluating the space you have to work with, whether it’s your parents’ house, dorm room or your own apartment. If you’re the type of person who needs to be completely free from distractions, the kitchen table may not be the best idea if your parents and siblings are constantly in and out. Instead, look for a space that will give you peace and quiet. This may be your own bedroom or that room in the basement no one ever goes to.
Mobile Study Zone: If you live in a dorm room that’s not conducive to studying, either because your roommate snores, plays loud music or the neighbors are in the midst of the keg party that will never end, don’t panic. You can take your study session on the road. Scope out the library, a shaded area on the campus lawn or a nearby picnic table. All you need is a good laptop bag, headphones to minimize distractions (even if you don’t listen to music on them) and a notebook and pen for notetaking (studies show we remember thing better when we write them down).
- Set up and personalize your space.
It may be tempting to study in bed, but you may find yourself doing more snoozing than studying. A small desk and a comfortable chair are all you need to get in the zone. If there’s not much natural light in your chosen space, invest in a small desk lamp to keep from straining your eyes. Personalize your space with a throw pillow (it helps protect your back too!) and carve out some wall space for a calendar and dry erase board to help keep you organized. Extra credit if you customize them with your favorite family photos or inspirational messages. Depending on how much room you have, you may want to stock up on essential office supplies, such as pens, sticky notes and a desk organizer or mouse.
- Eliminate distractions.
If music helps you study, great. But keep the TV and other electronic devices (including your smartphone) off and/or out of reach. Make a pact to stay off Facebook or YouTube, and pencil in a 5-minut break every hour to check in on your phone and social media sites. We promise, you can do this, and it’ll make a huge difference in how much you accomplish and digest.
- Create a schedule.
First things first: Take the time in the beginning of the year to fill out your calendar or daily planner as best you can with class times, test dates, pop quizzes and any other important events, whether it’s club meetings, school dances or study dates. Second, create a study plan to help keep yourself accountable. Dedicate certain days to certain subjects (Mondays and Wednesdays for math and English, Tuesdays and Thursdays for chemistry and history). At the beginning of each week, determine make a list of what you need to accomplish for each class. Then pencil in your goals for each specific study session (Example: Memorize first half of periodic table or read Chapter 1 of Pride and Prejudice). Let your parents, roommates and anyone else know that you’re not available during your designated study hours. A door hanger will help keep potential peer pressurers out of your way.
Happy studying, bookworm!