Creating your ideal study environment at home is an extremely important thing to do. It can have a real positive impact on your studies as it did for me. On the other hand, failing to do so can have a negative impact on them. What’s even worse is that you might not even realise it!
Now this is easy to do when you are on campus, you just need to find your ideal quiet space. Many students like to study at the library, some look for “hidden” places around the campus, others like to study in a cosy café. But what about when you are studying from home?
Distance learning has never been more popular and I’m expecting this to continue post pandemic, with people doing their studies completely remotely. Even if you are taking a mixed study approach, at some point you will have to study from your flat/home unless you want to live in the library or in a café.
In this article I will explain how I created my perfect study environment (with a limited space), from identifying the best study space to setting up my study desk.
How to create a good study environment?
So how to create a good study environment at home? As I said in other posts on my blog, I spent my last year of university studying from home due to the pandemic. Even after graduating, I have been working from home most of the time for the same reason.
Basically, my study environment has then become my work environment after university. I won’t lie, it took me a while to create my ideal one. However, this now that it’s done I can also clearly see its benefits, and hopefully help you as well.
Mind that I used to live in a tiny flat during my university studies, and by tiny I mean extremely small! Even after university, I never really had an extra room to create my study and work environment. If you have that (luck you!) this step by step list will be even easier!
1. Identify the best study space available
This is the first step, you need to identify the best place to set your study space at home. I followed few simple rules for that. My study desk (which was in essence my dining table too) needed to be as close as possible to a source of natural light.
Whether you have an extra room to place a desk, or your dining table is going to be your study desk too; make sure it gets natural light, it makes a difference! Moreover, it is also good to have a window close to you to get some fresh air every now and then.
If you think it’s not getting enough natural light, stop for a second and think: Can I move things around, furniture or whatsoever, to make it possible? Even if it takes few hours, or you need help, you do it once and it will benefit your studies till the end!
When studying in the evening/night, I would do the opposite. I would study in the “dark” and use a small desk lamp. This alternation of studying in daylight and at night time was great for me. I would really suggest getting a desk lamp that lets you adjust brightness levels!
This will prevent you to develop eye sensitivity that would ruin your sleep as it happened to me. I will leave a link to every product I used at the end of the article in case you want to know. Another important tip is to set your screens in dark mode when studying in the evening, it helps a lot too!
2. Use the concept of “friction” to create a perfect study environment
In my opinion, friction is the key to create your ideal study environment. The concept is very simple, you should identify anything that represents a friction between you and your study environment at home. You might not even realise the impact that those little things can have, it’s huge and often subconscious!
As I said, I only had one table/desk in my flat for studying and dining. Where was the friction there? Having to move everything whenever I needed to study or eat.. You might think, “it just takes a minute” but that it’s not the point!
The point is to optimise your study environment; and in order to do that, you need to eliminate frictions! Now, this is easy to do when you have a separate study desk (like I have my work desk now), but even in that case you can always identify new frictions to fully optimise it.
Study environment and friction, an example
Now let me explain how I set up my study desk using the friction concept. Firstly, I liked to keep my laptop screen at a eye level (I’d really suggest that, it helped me a lot with posture issues while studying and neck stress relief!) and I used my books to raise my laptop.
So every time I needed the table for lunch/dinner, I had to move that pile of books too; consequentially, I had to put it back every time I needed to study. Well that was a clear example of friction between me and my studies.
You think that is an exaggeration? I agree with you, the actual action on moving those books is nothing and it only takes few seconds, but it’s a psychological friction! The fact that I had to do that first was already putting me off without even noticing it!
If you add that up to other little things, then friction becomes a bigger problem that you might think.. So I bought a laptop stand and it solved the problem, no more books to move around. That was just one example, but I think you get the point: get rid of all those little frictions to optimise your study environment!
3. Get rid of your main distractions
I have talked about this in another post where I shared my tips on how to study from home effectively; you can have a read through that if interested. In essence, in order to create a good study environment you need to get rid of your main distractions, otherwise how can you study effectively?
My first main distraction was social media. Basically, I could not write few words or read a paragraph without needing to stop and check my socials. So I decided to log out from all of them (not just closing the app!); this would put me off from checking my socials while studying as I would need to insert my email address and password every time.
Another big distraction for my studies was noise. I would lose my concentration while studying after the minimum noise. This still happens to me nowadays by the way, it doesn’t matter where noise comes from. It could be from outside, or inside at home. Every single thing would make me lose my focus, so annoying!
However, I found a “weird” way around it. I would put my soundproof headphones on and keep them until I would finish studying. The funny thing is that I would not actually listen to anything at all! I don’t really know how to describe it, but probably a sense of “isolation” form the everything around me is the best way to say it.
4. Don’t forget your student wellbeing!
It’s easy to forget about it, but study fatigue can have a massive impact on your performances! You might spend days creating the perfect study environment, but it will not work if you don’t take care of your wellbeing when studying..
I remember well those days when I had study fatigue, particularly when assignments’ deadlines or exams were approaching. The university workload was very demanding at times and I was getting very stressed. I would feel so tired that the thought alone of having to study would literally make me feel even more!
It is at that point where usually students often “forget” to take care of themselves when studying; ultimately resulting in poor student wellbeing. Again, this is something that you might not even realise because you are completely lost in it!
I wrote a separate article on taking care of (and improving) your wellbeing when studying, you might find it useful. Remember that a study environment can only be perfect if the student is feeling energised and motivated; otherwise it won’t make much of a difference.
5. How I setup my study desk
Now I will explain how I set up my study desk to be more efficient when studying. This is probably what most think about when talking about a good study environment. However, I wanted to go through other points first as I really think they are equally important!
As usual, I will leave a direct link for each item to Amazon so that you can check prices, features and reviews; (as an affiliate my blog might receive a commission); please note: this is what I used, but if you have any recommendations let me know and I’ll look into it (potentially change the list if they are better value for money).
My study space set up:
- Adjustable Laptop Stand; this was really important for my neck pain and overall posture. Another very good feature is that it’s foldable and you can easily take it anywhere you go!
- Desk Lamp; the most important feature of this is the adjustable brightness setting. I would suggest to lower it enough to avoid stressing your eyes too much before going to bed (and ruining your sleep!);
- Headphones; I don’t know the science behind this, but it worked. Putting my headphones on without listening to anything helped me focus on my studies! Sometimes I would also put some background sound (e.g. meditation, rainfall sound, water, forest etc; however, silence was my best friend most of the time.
- Gaming Chair; this is what I call the “game changer”. I had posture issues when studying from home (e.g. I would slide forward on my chair, lower back pain and so on). If you don’t have a comfortable chair to study from home I would really suggest getting one!
Those were essentials items for my study space, basically they never left my study desk apart from the laptop stand. I did not mention here other things that I consider “optional” (e.g. keyboard, mouse, stationery). You can find more about those on my study from home essentials if interested.
Study environment at home, conclusions
It took me a while to create my ideal study environment. I had quite a few constraints, a limited study space and budget above all. However, I definitely benefited from it once done, and I hope my article can help you too (hopefully it’ll take you less time that it took me).
Summing everything up: natural light is a must when setting your study space/desk; getting rid of study frictions is important to create an optimal study environment; avoiding distractions is key to study effectively; your student wellbeing matters a lot too, take care of yourself when studying!
I really hope you found this post useful. Again, if you want to find out more you can find all posts on the blog page. Thank you!