BY DAVID GUTIERREZ
You might be surprised to learn how much the design of your working environment can impact your ability to study. Most businesses realize this and spend thousands of dollars redesigning their offices and workspaces to improve employee productivity.
If you could flip a switch and improve your ability to focus, or make your studying schedule more consistent, or improve your recall abilities, you’d do it—so why not make a few changes to your dorm or apartment to facilitate those changes in your daily life?
Key Challenges to Overcome
Some of you may be wondering how it’s possible to make meaningful changes to your dorm or apartment. There are three key challenges students face in this endeavor, but they’re all capable of being overcome:
- Dorm rooms can be less than 130 square feet, and you might be sharing that space with a roommate. That doesn’t give you much flexibility when it comes to installing new furniture. So rather than dreaming up the perfect workspace and transplanting it to your location, you’ll have to start with the parameters of your location and reverse engineer new solutions.
- In some cases, you won’t have much control over alterations to the living space. You might share it with someone or be in a lease that prohibits significant changes, like painting the walls. Again, the solution is to focus on what you can control—what you can change—and select improvements to make within those parameters.
- If you’re like most college students, you won’t have the much spare cash to spend on paint or furniture. However, using promo codes and taking advantage of discounts can help you redesign your apartment without eating into your thin monthly budget.
Key Variables to Control
Knowing those challenges, and how to beat them, these are some of the key ways you can change the design of your dorm or apartment to support better study habits:
- Colors and light. While some areas of research on color psychology remain dubious, there’s no doubt that color and light have a pronounced effect on your mood. Investing in better lighting can make it easier to read your material, and might help you stay alert and in a good mood. Choosing a wall color (or the color of objects in your dorm) that fits your personality and makes you happy may also be beneficial. And if you aren’t sure what you like, you can always go with “pacifying pink,” which has a consistent calming effect.
- You may have read memorable quotes or heard stories that geniuses prefer cluttered environments, but that’s wishful thinking. Research demonstrates that most people, when surrounded by a disorganized environment, have decreased task performance and increased stress. Take the time to organize your dorm, with shelves, containers, and other key items, and do a little bit of upkeep each day. You can also minimize the random objects that accumulate in your surroundings with a more minimalistic lifestyle.
- Noises are going to distract you from studying, but creating a more stable, ambient environment might help your efforts. Consider getting a high-quality speaker system, or noise-canceling headphones, that will allow you to play music that boosts your focus and productivity. Just make sure to stay away from anything with decipherable lyrics and anything too loud.
- Let’s turn our attention to the main space you plan on studying. It should be a distinct space (i.e., not your bed) so you learn to associate it with studying, and won’t be as tempted to engage in other activities while you’re there. Investing in a comfortable chair and a desk you like can be helpful, but if you can’t afford or can’t fit those things in, just make sure you have an organized space where you can set your books and materials.
- There’s some scientific evidence to suggest that scents from some essential oils can result in increased focus and productivity. This won’t require you to restructure anything in your apartment, and essential oils are relatively cheap, so there’s no reason not to try it.
- Things that make you happy. Finally, make sure you have a handful of objects and pieces of artwork nearby that make you happy. Having something to handle or look at that boosts your mood after a rough studying session can make you feel better or motivate you to keep going.
There may be cases where you aren’t able to make changes or invest in your living space the way you want. But this doesn’t mean you should give up hope. Many alternative locations in your surroundings are either custom designed to facilitate studying or coincidentally well-suited, including:
- Community centers
Most of these are free or cheap, and can support your study habits—plus, the change of scenery might be useful in helping you retain new memories. In any case, there are changes you can make to your environment that will drastically improve the consistency, value, and comfort of your studying sessions—so take advantage of them.
David Gutierrez has worked in the field of web design since 2005. Right now he started learning Java in order to get second occupation. His professional interests defined major topics of his articles. David writes about new web design software, recently discovered professional tricks and also monitors the latest updates of the web development.