When you’re a student, you spend a lot of time in your dorm, whether you like it or not. You’ll get plenty of chances to study in libraries, cafes, and even unused classrooms, but for several hours a week, you’ll have to do your studying in the dorm … and your dorm probably won’t be a great study space.
Dorms are often cramped and unaccommodating, and the spaces that are large too often contain other people, including a roommate who may pose a distraction for you. Fortunately, it’s within your power to convert your dorm area into a near-perfect study space.
What You Need for Good Study Habits
One of the keys to becoming an effective scholar is possessing (or developing) the mental discipline to pursue excellent study habits. But your success will also depend on your surroundings.
If you want your dorm to support your study habits, you’ll need the following items:
- The right desk. First, you’ll want to invest in a high-quality desk: one that’s comfortable to sit at, with a suitable height and plenty of space for you to spread out your books, notes, and homework. Of course, you’ll also need to find a desk that will fit in your presumably limited dorm space, so this may be a lengthy search.
- Good lighting. You’ll also need good-quality lighting if you want to read effectively, not strain your eyes, and keep focused for long periods. Look for bright LED bulbs that emit blue-wavelength light, and make sure to use those lights throughout your study sessions.
- A supportive chair. It’s easy to neglect your posture when you’re cramming for a midterm exam, but the way you sit (and what you sit in) can have a substantial effect on your back health, and thereby your powers of concentration. Make sure you invest in a chair with proper ergonomic design, one that’s comfortable enough to spend several hours in, but which also encourages good posture.
- A paper shredder. Many college students overlook the utility of a paper shredder. You’ll need this to shred credit card applications and other documents that contain your personal information. College students are common targets of identity theft. Plus, shredding that final exam you dreaded may serve as a fitting act of catharsis.
- Pens, pencils, and paper. Even if you usually take notes on a computer or mobile device, you should know there are benefits to tangible note-taking. Keep paper, pencils, and pens at your desk at all times.
- Highlighters. Highlighters are one of the most worthwhile tools you’ll employ in your college career. They’re immensely useful for drawing your eyes to vital information in your textbooks, past essays, class notes, and other study materials.
- Noise-cancelling headphones. There are pros and cons to using noise-cancelling headphones, but in the somewhat cramped environs of your dorm space, they could be the perfect tool to block out distractions … especially if your roommate tends to be noisy. Invest in a pair, but remember not to listen to distracting music when you have them on.
- Sources of inspiration. Everyone deserves a source of positive inspiration at his or her study nook, to keep you going during particularly hard times or provide that extra burst of creativity. These could be anything, including photos of your family, a poster from your favorite entertainment franchise, an art piece, or some interactive desk toy. Pick something that makes you happy and inspires you to think in different ways.
- A clock. Research shows we’re all at our most productive when we take regular breaks. Studies suggest the average person does best when on a work schedule of 52 minutes, followed by a 17-minute break. Having a clock at your desk can help you keep track of your timing schedule. Plus, it will enable you to avoid looking at your phone when you need to know the time, and that has the potential to be a major distraction during your study sessions.
- Invigorating scents. Certain scents have the power to boost your productivity and help you focus, such as lemon, frankincense, and lavender. Engaging with strong, pleasant scents may also help you retain more of what you’re studying. It’s a good idea to set up your space with some mechanism for adding positive and productive scents to the air, whether you select a candle, an incense burner, or an essential oil diffuser.
Bonus: Eliminating Distractions
So far, this article has encouraged you to add items to your surroundings to produce a more effective studying space. In some cases you’ll want to remove items. Distractions, such as a television or electronic devices that don’t relate to studying, can easily do more harm than good.
You may want to remove such diversions from your dorm entirely, or place them you won’t be able to get ready access to them while you’re trying to focus on schoolwork.