Creating an environment that’s conducive to studying is key — whatever your reason for learning.
It’s the same if you’re enrolled in a brick-and-mortar high school and studying over the summer; you’re a mature student who’s recently returned to school; you’re in a postsecondary institution, and you’re preparing for your exams; or you’re a teen who’s trying to improve your high school grades and your knowledge with help from an online school over the summer. Ultimately, a study space full of distractions only holds you back.
Fortunately, there are some easy ways to foster a healthy schedule, make some improvements to your chosen study space, and improve how well you retain knowledge and understand your course content. Here’s how.
1. Create a Routine
First, create a firm schedule. We follow a routine in our everyday lives, and it works! Operating around a learning timetable set by the day or week — and one tailored to suit your learning style — will help keep you on track.
Routine is beneficial for both studying and knowledge retention. For one, it reduces stress: there’s no need to worry about when you need to study (calendars can also help to assuage anxieties around deadlines). Planning your day in advance within strict parameters can also reduce the potential for procrastination, leading to greater productivity both in your education and in your extra-curricular activities.
Take some time every Sunday or Monday morning to plan the topics you’d like to cover that week. This is especially important for teens who are wisely taking advantage of their free time during the summer, by taking courses through a virtual high school. Planning ensures that educational and social obligations can be straddled with ease.
Writing to-do lists and making online calendars are satisfying ways to keep tabs; they also guarantee you don’t miss important deadlines and that you prepare thoroughly for upcoming tests.
2. Remember to Take Breaks
This means purposeful breaks. Taking a break to look through your phone or scroll through social media doesn’t count. Instead, get up, stretch your legs, complete a small household task, make a cup of coffee, or step outdoors for some fresh air.
Taking a break every 50 to 90 minutes is recommended to help refresh your attention. Breaks can help you resharpen focus, boost productivity, and increase your motivation. It’s advised to take breaks that last between 10 to 25 minutes, depending on how long you were studying beforehand.
3. Consider the Environment
A noisy, high-traffic area that’s full of interruptions from other people, pets or other external disruptions isn’t conducive to study. If you live in a shared home, try finding a clutter-free room to use exclusively during your study hours.
Think about your workstation. A dedicated desk or table and an ergonomic, comfortable chair are great places to begin. If you have a desk in your room, keep it free of unnecessary mess (more messiness means greater distractions).
If this isn’t doable — you don’t have room at home to carve out a dedicated study area, or your living space is simply too busy — consider your local library or a quiet coffee shop instead.
The Bottom Line on Independent Learning
Creating an impactful study environment needn’t be costly or extravagant. Start by carving out a dedicated learning space that’s tidy and orderly. Then set a routine that you can commit to that works for you and your learning style. Following these simple tips can truly set you up for a conducive and successful learning experience, regardless of the type of school or program you find yourself in.