Having a good study space is vital to being productive.
Too many distractions, not being able to begin working, not being able to find your materials: these are all problems that will prevent you from working to your full potential.
There are many things that you can do to make your study space a good one.
Improve the Effort to Reward Ratio
Our brains are wired to do the things that produce the most amount of reward for the least amount of effort. That’s why it’s so easy to be distracted by things like social media, TV, and video games.
Those activities generally require little effort to begin (just a few button presses), and the reward is almost immediate.
The reward for those activities are generally a sense of relaxation and entertainment, but those rewards don’t last long. They are short term rewards, not long term rewards.
So how can you improve on the effort to reward ratio of your work space?
One of the things you could do is increase the amount of effort it takes to start working on a nonproductive activity.
Here are ways to minimize three different kinds of distractions:
- Video games: hide the wires and controllers to your console (if you’re a console gamer), or make a rule that you have to shut down and then boot up your computer to play a game (if you’re a PC gamer).
- Social media: implement the same rule of having to shut down and then boot up your computer before logging in to your accounts.
- Television: remove the batteries from your TV remote.
There are also other things you can do to increase the amount of effort it takes to do nonproductive activities.
Physical objects, like controllers, phones, and discs, could be placed quite a distance away.
Nonphysical objects, such as internet access, video games that are on your computer, and streaming services, can be blocked during certain hours of the day.
Lower the Effort it Takes to Get Started
The other thing you can do to improve on the effort to reward ratio, is lowering the effort it takes to get started on your work.
Instead of having to search around for your notes, place them beside your computer.
If you have anything physical that you’ll need to use, keep it in your work space, and make sure that you can see it.
You’ll also want to keep your work space clean, as having to reorganize everything every time you want to work will just become another obstacle to your productivity.
If there are files or programs that you need to use during work, make sure that you can access them easily from your desktop.
Know What to Do, Before You Begin Working
Not knowing what you need to do can cause you to prioritize things incorrectly, which may leave urgent and important things incomplete.
These are two ways that I keep track of what I need to do.
Visible To-Do Lists
I find that the only way a to-do list works, is if I can see it while I’m working.
Because of this, I can’t use an app to keep track of my to-do list. I would need to go get my phone, turn it on, and open up the app to see what I need to work on. That’s three steps.
I also don’t keep a physical to-do list in a drawer or with other papers. To access that I would need to open up the drawer and take out the list, or rummage through the papers and find the list. That’s two steps.
Instead, I keep my to-do list on sticky notes that I hang up on my wall, beside my desk. That way I only have to look at my wall to see what I need to do. That’s only one step.
The less effort it takes to know what you have to do, the better.
Have an Organized Calendar
I find that calendars are much more useful than planners or agendas, as they provide a better visual representation of days and months. If you find that planners or agendas work better for you, feel free to use them, just keep them well organized.
I use my calendar to keep track of when I’ll be publishing blog posts, the writing that I need to work on, and any important dates and events.
My calendar is on the wall, right beside my to-do list. That way I can see what I need to do, as well as deadlines or things that may interfere with work.
Having the proper ambience is an important factor of productivity.
Increase Light Levels
Chances are, you’re not working a well lit area. This can cause you to become sluggish and sleepy.
Melatonin is the hormone that tells your body when to sleep, and it is produced when you are in dark areas.
To minimize the amount of melatonin that is produced while you work, keep your work space well lit with sunlight. If the sun isn’t available (either because of weather or location), try a bright light in a cold color. It may seem sterile, but it will be effective at keeping you awake.
Balance the Temperature
Temperature can become a distraction when working, so make sure that you’re neither too hot nor too cold.
I find that being at a ‘normal’ temperature is very distracting, so I prefer to be rather warm. Because of this, I often wear sweaters while working, or I’ll sit in a sunny location. Sometimes I’ll use a blanket during the winter.
Sometimes the temperature being a bit cool will also help me focus, but it it’s too cold, I find that it just distracts me from my work.
Experiment to find the temperature that you work best in.
The space that you study in has a large influence on how productive you are, so try to make it the best space you can.
If you found this post helpful, consider checking back next Monday for another study related post.