Study at Home Without the Distractions

There comes a time in every college student’s academic career (usually at any point when said student lives off campus) when a decision of the utmost importance must be made: To go to the library, or not to go to the library?
You will agonizingly weigh pros against cons: “I’ll focus so much more out of my comfort zone”/”But what if that guy who sings along with his iPod sits next to me?”, “I’ll have access to all of the books I might need”/ “But WHERE am I going to park?”, “I’ll escape my roommate’s detailed story about last night’s hookup.”/ “But I might have to listen to the same story if I sit next to an obnoxious group of girls.”
You might make the decision, ultimately, to pack your belongings for the day or evening and reluctantly trudge to that haven of Starbucks, guilty Facebooking and stress ridden speed-reading. Or you might opt to keep your PJ clothed butt right where. it. is — sometimes the best decision. When you need to get studying done, but don’t have time or patience to commute to your campus library, just remember these helpful hints and you’ll be on your way to an A++ (oh yeah, they give those. To SPECIAL PEOPLE).
Nix the Noise. Some of my friends swear by rocking out to their iTunes while they run flashcards or do algorithms, but unless you’re rocking out to Bach, music is only going to detract from your attentiveness. If you feel overwhelmed by silence and need that background noise, keep your playlist tuned to soft, slow songs that you know by heart (so you won’t be pondering the true meaning of Jason Mraz lyrics instead of your philosophy textbook.)
Absolutely turn off the TV. Again, I know the noise in the background makes some people feel like they’re more alert, but eventually something is going to catch your ear or eye and will momentarily take your focus away from whatever is you’re studying. Even those 3 seconds will throw off your train of thought and make it more difficult to get back into your study groove.
Get Chunky. The most effective way to study and retain info is to study in 20 to 50 minute segments, then take a 5-10 minute break before your next chunk. I personally like to up the chunky ante by adding a little bit of “monkey” and grabbing the biggest spoon I can find…no one wants to learn on an empty stomach, am I right?
Feng Shui. Okay, not necessarily literally (although if you must, you’ll need sharp leaved plants, a cactus, wind chimes and windows to your left), but by creating a space that allows you to comfortably focus you’ll be a lot more productive. Your best bet is sitting at a desk. Make sure your chair is comfortable with a high back and isn’t too high or low for your writing surface. Eliminate clutter. If your desk doubles as a vanity/DJ table/cocktail bar/ or art canvas, clear away anything that isn’t VITAL to your studying (pretty much everything but a lamp, your book, computer, paper and pencil). Now settle in and crack those books.
Get Comfy. Don’t snuggle up in your favorite blanket or tuck yourself into bed (remember Feng Shui!), but allow yourself to get ready to settle into studying. Get a headband or clip if your hair is going to be in your eyes. Turn your air up or down to a comfortable temperature. Have water nearby and change into something comfy (the best part of skipping the library is avoiding the people watching—take advantage of this and rock your flamingo boxers if you must).
Turn Off Your Phone. If you can’t bear to do this, put it on silent and someplace where you can’t see it. Even if you don’t plan on responding or answering, a missed call from a friend can leave you distracted, thinking about them or wondering what they were going to tell you. Opening texts will definitely throw off your concentration, and stressing about answering will take your focus off your assignment. Just lose the phone for a few hours and your studying will go smoother and quicker.
Plan Your Schedule Accordingly. Set aside time to study for specific classes. If you have 2 or 3 really difficult classes, schedule regular time to read and review (not just before a big test or paper). The best time to study is during daylight hours, and the earlier you start, the better off you’ll be. Plan on setting aside at least 2 hours of reading or reviewing for each hour that you spend in class. Stay up to date by having assigned reading done one class in advance—not after the date on the syllabus, which is probably when you’re going over it in class.
Shying away from the library defies the picturesque image of a college bookworm, but don’t let that influence your study habits. If it is simply more effective for you to study in the comfort of your own home or dorm room, just stick to simple study tips and you won’t have any issues with your test—or noisy neighbors, overly-caffeinated Shakespeare enthusiasts or closing time at your campus library.

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