Believe it or not, the most effective way to battle the problems of distractions, poor concentration, and low self-esteem is to improve your learning environment.
No matter how hard you try, you cannot learn with the TV on or music pumping into your ears. You cannot learn at the kitchen table, at the living room coffee table, on your bed, or at the campus coffee shop. It won’t happen. You may struggle through, but you will be functioning at a level far below your potential just because of where you choose to study.
How can you maximize your studying experience?
- Find a study place. You must establish a place that is only for studying. Don’t kid yourself: the majority of concentration problems come from distractions that occur because you study in the wrong place. Select a place that is quiet, comfortable, and relaxing. You want to create a space that has associations related only to studying. When you sit down at this place, the subconscious messages that come into your brain tell you that this is where you study, and do nothing else but study.
- Make it comfortable. Studying is primarily a sedentary activity. You sit in your chair for long periods and there’s no way to avoid that. Therefore, first and foremost, it is essential to have a comfortable chair. It is worth every penny to buy a proper chair. It is a wise investment in your learning future. However, what you also should know about sitting for long periods is that you need to consider doing less of it. You still need to study for long periods, but reduce how much of it you do while sitting. According to numerous recent studies, sitting for prolonged periods leads to chronic disease and premature death. Sitting is considered the new smoking. No amount of exercise you do will compensate for sitting too much.
- Check the lighting. Make sure you have enough light. Always have at least two light sources in your study area. Not only does this help give you sufficient total light, but it will help reduce eye strain. If you have a good light over your desk but the rest of the room is in total darkness, your eye muscles will have to work extra hard to adjust to the extremes of light and blackness. Yes, your eyes will wander when you study – even with good focus and concentration, your eyes will move throughout the room.
- Have everything ready. One of the most effective ways to waste time is to spend it gathering all the study materials and other little things before you open a book. It’s easy to fool yourself into thinking you are accomplishing something useful while sitting at your desk and looking busy, but it’s useless activity. Your time is for studying. Before the clock starts, make certain you have everything you need right in front of you.
- Post a lot of positive messages around the space. One of the major distractions to consistent focus and concentration is the nagging doubt you may have about your ability. Years of struggling to success but coming up short can take its toll on self-esteem. You need to build up that aspect of yours – just as an athlete builds up strength and endurance. You need to create a positive mental and emotional environment in which you will study. Surrounding yourself with things carrying a positive message will not have an immediate, dramatic impact. By themselves they won’t do much, but it’s amazing how powerful they can be as “booster shots” when mind wanders and you begin to have doubts.
- Enrich your environment. It is important that your study place be somewhere you enjoy going. If it’s pleasant and inviting, it’s less likely that you will avoid going there to do your work. Factors such as comfort, light, quiet, positive associations, and inspiring messages all around are key, but there are many other little things you can do to make it event better: add flowers and plants, use an air purifier or humidifier, or use soft foams earplugs to help block out distracting noise.
Once you have your physical work environment ready for studying, you are ready to begin preparing your inner world for top learning performance.
You need to believe you can tap into your hidden potential for maximum performance and increased learning power. Creating right work environment is just the beginning. The whole path to unlocking the genius inside you can be found in Study Smarter, Not Harder by Kevin Paul. Good luck!