Welcome to the third installment of the back to school series! Today we’re diving into the benefits of having a designated study space. I have been trying out a new strategy for the second anatomy and physiology block. Since this is a very lecture- and study heavy subject, requiring a lot of self-study time, I’ve vowed to go to the school study hall once per day, even if it’s just five minutes. So far, it’s been going great, and I’ve definitely put in more hours than if I’d tried to study at home.
My current schedule includes spending about an hour after the lecture going through my lecture notes, sorting them out and reading up on the stuff I didn’t understand. I try to limit myself to an hour tops, because I want to get to work on whatever else I have planned for the day. One thing I’ve noticed is that it helps me focus to have a set deadline for when I have to go home, to the gym, or to work, because I know there’s an end in sight. I end up taking fewer breaks and putting in more deep work. This, of course, is anecdotal, as I know many of my friends feel quite the opposite, and only focus on when they have to leave instead of getting into a flow state. (This could be my competitive nature loving to race against the clock to see how much I can do in a set amount of time, so if you have that same competitive streak, this may work for you as well.)
Some factors that make it easier to go to the study hall instead of going home are things like having a study-buddy that you can sit next to and study in silence with, or bringing an awesome packed lunch to enjoy while reading. Storing your heaviest books in a locker also works as a motivator, because you won’t have to carry them home if you just stay and read. I’ve even given myself incentives to go outside of the study benefits, like having one of my favorite teas at the study area only, so that if I want a cup, I have to go.
By separating study- and downtime as much as possible you 1. Don’t feel bad about taking time off while at home, 2. Actually focus while at your designated study space because that is all the time that you have to study, and 3. Make sure that you’re putting in that study time every day, instead of putting it off until the wee hours of the night.
If you don’t have access to a designated study area with lockers, etc. you can replicate the effect by putting up a calendar in your home, and cross off every time you go to the local library to study. If you’re anything like me, you’ll want to fill out those empty squares. And by forcing yourself to go somewhere to study, the sunk cost of having traveled and carried all your books and your computer somewhere will force you to at least put in some work.