Stack of books on a desk next to an open notebook

How to change your mindset by changing your study space

Where you choose to do your studying and essay writing can significantly affect your mindset and your efficiency. After three years at university, I have found that where I do my work can change the effectiveness of my writing drastically.

In this article I will share my findings with you and give advice on where, when and how to do your university work.

Firstly, I would advise you to be careful about with whom you study. While some friends and fellow students may be great study partners, all of you motivating one another, don’t fall into the trap of working with friends that distract you. Most people won’t deliberately distract you, but it is something to watch out for. I have found that working in the silent section of the library can help with this, because whilst you are still spending time with your mates, you can’t fall into a conversation that’s off topic.

Choosing a time to study can be difficult. In my experience this is different for everyone, but you should work out the optimal time to study for you, and not worry about other people’s opinions on the subject. For example, I found that working late into the night is the best option for me. I am not recommending others follow that schedule, rather to develop a schedule that works for you. Don’t stick to this schedule too rigorously though; use it as a guide to help you find your optimal working period.

I would very much recommend the silent floor of the library as a great space to get you into the mindset of studying and essay writing. My next go-to location is my home desk. My desk is placed facing a window and so gets plenty of light, improving my mood, as opposed to in a dark work environment. Try to keep your desk relatively tidy. I find that a tidy desk increases productivity, allowing me to focus solely on the work at hand. “A tidy desk is a tidy mind”, as the saying goes.

Some may find that sitting upright at a desk is too formal, but I would discourage this notion. “Getting into the zone” is important, and for me, the desk in my room is the best place to achieve this. Once I have sat down and began writing, it is far easier to stay focused when I have a space dedicated to the task.

My second choice of home working space would be a table in a quiet room somewhere else in the house. Having a quiet room somewhere that you will not be disturbed is a good way to keep your mind focused on the essay or studying that you’re attempting. Keep the TV off and ask your family to give you some space while you’re working.

On the subject of TVs and other distractions, this is something you should bear in mind during your hunt for a good study space. A location should look relatively boring and plain, as too many distractions will reduce your efficiency when it comes to your university work. Leave your phone in another room!

Be careful with distractions, although having books and other material related to your studies nearby might help to maintain a good mindset during your work time. For example, to the sides of my desk I have two bookshelves filled with books related to my course. This can help with providing you with ideas, and having resources close at hand means you don’t need to leave your study space, and therefore you can stay in the zone more easily.

To conclude: have a designated study space, avoid distractions by setting up this space properly, keep course material nearby, and use the quiet zone of the library.  All of these tips will, I hope, increase your efficiency and productivity when you return to your studies in September.

This article is featured on Learning at Lincoln. 

Please note: This content was created prior to Coronavirus, and some things might be different due to current laws and restrictions. Please refer to Government advice and the University of Lincoln for the latest information.