How to study effectively when you aren’t in the Library

Home for the holidays? No longer able to study in the Library or your usual spot? Here are some tips to help you create a pop-up study haven…

It’s the Easter vacation, which means over a month away from lectures, and even the University if you’ve taken the opportunity to go home. It’s great to get some head space and immerse yourself in a different environment. Days are spent in the sunshine, enjoying time with friends, catching up on all those episodes of the Walking Dead that you’d fallen behind on. But soon the reality of exams, revision and dissertations comes crashing down and you realise that you really need to study. Where’s the Library when you need it?

Fear not, there are ways to create a productive study environment for yourself. Here’s how:

Identify your needs

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First, you need to reflect a little. Have a think about how you study, when are you at your most productive? Do you get the majority of your work done from Floor 4 or do you prefer working with friends in the Rootes Grid? Be honest with yourself too – the worst thing (well, second worst thing after not studying at all) would be to create an unproductive environment for yourself, as this will result in a lot of wasted time and a loss of motivation. If you aren’t sure or think you might be quite flexible, then the best thing would be to try out a few options over the holidays and see what works best. It might even be that you thrive on the variety and need to mix things up now and again.

Source a location

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So now you should have an idea of what you need – perhaps somewhere quiet with few distractions, or maybe a familiar, comfy place that you can relax and get into the zone. Next, you need to recreate a similar environment for yourself. This may be a little tricky if you have limited resources (anyone stuck in the Lake District on a family holiday?) but a few visual prompts or the right background noise can go a long way. Here’s a few examples:

  • somewhere studious – try to find a local Library or, failing that, pile some course books onto your desk as a visual cue to get you into the academic headspace.
  • somewhere silent – this could be anywhere quiet, from your bedroom to a local park. If you can’t find somewhere suitable, try headphones or ear-plugs to block out any noise.
  • somewhere social – a local café sounds ideal, providing a lively atmosphere and desk space. Plus, easy access to snacks… Just make sure you don’t break the bank, buying coffee for your keep! You can always invite friends along, providing they also have some studying or reading to do.

Next, remove distractions!

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Never rely on willpower when it comes to revision. You’ll need to be brutal and ensure that any distractions aren’t accessible. If you don’t work well listening to music, leave your iPod at home. Uninstall Snapchat from your phone for designated study sessions. Close the door so any family members/chatty friends/cute pets can’t disturb you. Don’t create study groups if you work better independently. Trust me, if it’s available, you’ll most likely give in to temptation. I say this from experience, having just eaten half a slab of Galaxy chocolate just because it’s in the drawer next to me… Sigh.

Get a routine

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As you aren’t at University, it’s likely that your whole routine would have changed. You don’t need to get up for lectures so why set an alarm for 7.30am? Again, this comes back to understanding your study-style. If you are more productive in the mornings, make sure you get up promptly. If you prefer to work in the evenings, keep some evenings free from social activities. Then, maintain this. Your body needs to keep regular hours and to get enough sleep. Creating a daily routine that you can stick to will help with this. You might even want to plan and timetable, according to how much studying you need to do over the Holidays. Setting yourself targets, rewards and designated study time will help increase your productivity and keep you motivated.

Ultimately, you need to do what works for you. We all study differently and require different atmospheres to be our most effective. Find yours, don’t pollute it with distractions or temptations and then create a routine to ensure that you are dedicating time to studying, as well as relaxing and having some fun. It’s all about balance.

Wishing you a productive holiday!


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