How to Create an Organized, Productive Study Space

How to Create an Organized, Productive Study Space


A writer for the Paris Review once asked the great science fiction
writer Ray Bradbury where he did his writing. His response? “I can work anywhere. “I wrote in bedrooms and living
rooms when I was growing up “with my parents and my
brother in a small house “in Los Angeles. “I worked on my typewriter
in the living room “with the radio and my mother
and my dad and my brother “all talking at the same time. “Later on, when I needed an
office and wanted to go write “my novel Fahrenheit 451 25 years ago, “I went up to UCLA and
found a basement typing room “where for 10 cents, which you
inserted into the typewriter, “you could buy yourself 30
minutes of typing time.” Now this seems a bit
surprising at first, especially given all the other famous writers who had a very let’s say,
particular writing habits. For instance, the author
Gertrude Stein chose her writing space on
whether or not she’d be able to see a cow walk by. But Bradbury’s ability to
work anywhere makes more sense when you hear his answer to
the interviewer’s followup question about whether or
not he enjoyed writing. “Yes, it’s obvious that I do. “It’s the exquisite joy
and madness of my life “and I don’t understand
writers who have to work at it. “If I had to work at it, I would give up “because I don’t like
working, I like to play.” This is the kicker. Bradbury’s intense love of
writing is what enabled him do drown out all distractions. He wrote because there was
nothing else he would rather be doing at the moment. You can probably think back
to things that have consumed your attention in a similar way. For me, at different points in my life, those things have been
UI design, programming, and most recently, playing the guitar. When I’m playing guitar,
nothing is going to distract me because that’s exactly
what I want to be doing and I get into it, but there
are always less interesting things that we just have to
do like calculus assignments, ironic essays about the
Virgin Islands, and crucially, as you’re interest in the
work diminishes, the more important the optimization of
your work environment becomes. So today, I want to explore
what goes into creating the perfect study space, one
where you can easily slip into the flow state, resist
distractions, and actually get your work done fast
enough to have some time left over to play Cave
Story before you got to go to bed. And when it comes to
creating a great study space, the first thing we need
to talk about is context. You have a ton of choice
when it comes to study spots. You got libraries, you got coffee shops, you got basements of academic
buildings that nobody else knows about, and then
there is your dorm room or your bedroom, but
wherever you decide to study, you want to make sure
that the place you select is exclusively for
studying and nothing else. That’s because context is everything. Environmental factors influence
a lot of our behavior. So if you put yourself in
the place where the purpose is ambiguous, you’re going
to be a lot more likely to slip into the path of least resistance which is usually taking
quizzes to find out what your Hogwarts house is. Now this is definitely
easier to do if you select the library or the academic
basement, as you probably aren’t going to go there
for any other reason. But if you happen to pick
your dorm, it’s much more important to consider. So for example, check out
how my friend Martin set up his study space. He did decide to study
and work in his room, but he divided that room
up with a Shoji screen so that way he had one isolated area that was only for work. Now you definitely
don’t have to go all out and buy a Shoji screen like he did. In fact, he didn’t even buy it. It was just laying around,
but you can use his example to tailor your own study space. One alternative method
would be to turn your desk into a corner of the room and
make sure that all of your fiction books and your
video games and any other distracting materials are just
out of your field of view. That will make sure that
what you’re looking at is exclusively about the work
you’re supposed to be doing. Secondly, think about the
quality of your lighting because it really can
affect your productivity. Now if you can get natural
light, that is definitely going to be your best option, but
if you have only artificial light to work with, you
can work to control that because it does make a difference. While I was doing the
research for this video, I was especially interested
in a German study that looked at the affects
of color, temperature, and light intensity on the
productivity of students at the Cologne University
of Applied Sciences. Now this study only tracked 50 students, so this area of science
could definitely use more fleshing out, but what they did find is that students were more
creative under warm light at about 3,000 kelvin and
they were able to concentrate better under colder light,
at about 6,000 kelvin. To add to those findings,
another study done at Cornell University found
that light that was too dim or too bright also negatively
affected productivity. So with those findings in
mind, it might be a good idea to experiment with lighting
in your study area. Maybe get a lamp for
your desk and experiment with different color temperature
in the bulbs that you choose for that lamp. And on the brightness end of
things, you definitely don’t have to go out and buy multiple
bulbs at different levels of brightness to figure
out what works for you. Instead, for about 10 bucks,
you can go to your local hardware store and get a lamp
side dimmer and if you get a dimmable bulb, you can
experiment just by toggling the switch and seeing what works. Now in addition to the color
temperature of your light, the actual temperature in the
room matters a lot as well. Not only can an environment
that’s too hot or too cold consciously distract
you and make you look up and daydream and not want to do your work, but it can also unconsciously
cause you to make mistakes while you’re actually working. That same Cornell study
that I referenced a couple of minutes ago also looked at temperature and they found among other
things, “when temperatures “were low, 68 degrees
or 20 degrees Celsius, “employees made 44% more
mistakes than at optimal “room temperature, 77 degrees
or 25 degrees Celsius.” So if you have access to
the thermostat in your study area, make sure you’re
setting it to an optimal temperature for studying. And if you don’t, maybe
try a different location. Regardless of where you decide to study, you want to make sure that
you have access to all the things you need
for the particular task that you’re doing. That includes notebooks,
textbooks, index cards if you’re going to make
flashcards for studying, and pens and pencils. And on the note of pens
and pencils, make sure that what you’re writing with
is something that you actually enjoy writing with. Now some people definitely go away further than I would go with this. In fact, there’s an
entire podcast out there with literally hundreds of episodes call The Pen Addict that’s all about pens, but I would say don’t
go for the cheapest pens that are a pain to write
with because they’re just going to distract you and
make the process of writing notes down unenjoyable. Additionally, make sure
that you have a somewhat comfortable chair to sit
in or maybe even experiment with a standing desk. Now I’ve got a standing
desk In my room right now that cost, well, it cost a lot of money. But back when I was in
college, I actually tried to build a much cheaper
standing desk using tables from Walmart and screws and
a little bit of ingenuity. But I’m going to be
honest, it wasn’t enough ingenuity because that
standing desk kind of sucked. But luckily, there are now
standing desks for about $25 like the Spark standing desk
that are made of cardboard that you can set up very, very easily, so that might be something to try out. Also, one additional thing
that you might not have thought of having with you while
you study is a notebook or piece of scratch paper
or maybe an app where you write down things that come
to mind or distract you. One of the things that
can completely wreck my concentration and
absolutely kill a study session for me is if something
comes to mind that I just can’t get out of my head, and
it could be something stupid like needing to do the
laundry, but if I take the time to write that down in
a system that I trust where I know I can come
back and see it later, that allows me to get
back into my work and let that thing go. Additionally, that piece of
paper can also be a record of the things that distract you. Maybe your environment is
really prone to having people come in and ask you to do
things, or maybe it’s just really noisy. I you write those things
down, you can start to consciously make improvements
and maybe just select a different spot altogether. Now in addition to the
things that you need to have available to you, you should
also consider the things that you shouldn’t have available to you. This is often why your
room is often not a good study area and why you have
to work hard to make it so because remember, it’s context. Your room has your video
games, your room has your bed, your room has your nine foot
tall stack of Cup O’ Ramen. It’s not always the best place to study. And speaking of things that you don’t need while you’re studying, the
big elephant in the room is the thing that you’re
using to watch me right now, which is the internet. Now I know what you’re going to say. I need the internet for
research, I need the internet to get on my math lab. And yes, sometimes you do,
but remember, tasks can almost always be broken down
into individual sub tasks or mini tasks. This video that you’re
watching right now is a good example of this because to
make this video, I had to write a script, which is basically like an essay and writing a script
isn’t a singular task. It’s a sequence of sub tasks. There’s the research phase,
there’s idea generation, there’s the rough draft
writing phase, and finally, the editing phase. And guess what? I only needed the internet
for one of those phases, the research phase. So during the other
three phases, especially that rough draft writing
phase where I’m very prone to distractions and I don’t
really want to be writing for a lot of it, I will
often turn the internet off or I’ll use an app like Cold Turkey Writer which will literally
block my ability to do anything else but write. Now the internet and its
many, many cat pictures is probably the greatest
threat to your concentration, but there are many other things
that can derail you as well. So before you settle into your study spot and start on your first
task, make a mental note of all the potential things
that could derail you in the future. If you’re going to get hungry
or thirsty during study session, make sure you bring
a snack or water bottle with you. Or if you need your laptop for a task and it has a really bad
battery, make sure you’ve packed your charging port. I’ve had several times in my
life where I go to a coffee shop, I have every
intention of working hard for several hours, and
then, of course, I forgot the charger, so I derail. Also, when you finish studying
for the day, make sure you clear your space to neutral. Bring it back to its clean, pristine state because the next time you
come to it, you don’t want to have to clean it up because it’s likely to make you procrastinate. You want to be able to just
smoothly roll into the work immediately. And lastly, this is a bit
of a weird one, but try to view your study space
as a work in progress. I know we kind of talked
about making the “perfect” study space here, but if
you’re always seeking out perfection, you’re never
actually going to use your study space to get
work done, so just view it as a work in progress that
is constantly improving, but that will never be
perfect and that’s okay. And one idea that might
help curb that perfectionism and make your more productive
is to switch locations in between tasks. This is something that I
really enjoy doing myself and I’m not alone. The author Cal Newport does
it as well and he calls it the concentration circuit. Here’s what he has to say about it. “Something about arriving
in a new and novel location, “somewhere different than
where you normally work “provides a boost to your
motivation and aids concentration. “Over time, this effect
will wane, but if you keep “switching locations, you
can keep re-stimulating “this reaction again
and again, maintaining “an average level of
concentration that’s potentially “much higher than if
you had slogged through “the deep task in one literal sitting.” All right, so because we
covered a lot of ground in this video, I want to do a quick recap, just like we did last week. First, make sure that your
study spot is exclusively for studying. Context is king. Second, keep your lighting
in mind and opt for natural lighting if you can. Try studying near a
window and if you can’t, at least experiment
with your light’s color, temperature, and intensity
until you find something that works for you. Third, if you have control over it, try adjusting the temperature
of your study space as well. Ideally, somewhere around
77 degrees fahrenheit, but it might vary for you. Fourth, before you start
studying, make sure you have access to all the materials
that you’re going to need and make sure that
access is easy and quick, but number five, also make
sure you don’t have access to things that you don’t
need because they are likely to destroy your concentration
and make you procrastinate. Number six, make plans in
advance to deal with possible derailments in your
productivity and number seven, try switching up locations
in between tasks. Now taken by themselves,
these tasks will hopefully help you make some meaningful
improvements to the place where you work, but it
is also sometimes helpful to be able to see how other
people work and to get inspiration from them. So to that end, I’ve set
up the following website called Study Spaces where
you can see other people’s study spaces and even submit your own. Now the idea for this site
popped I my head while I was writing the script for this
vide and once I realized I could use the .es extension
to get that cool-looking domain name, I was able
to get it registered in just about 30 seconds over at Hover, which is exactly where you should register your domain names as well. Hover makes it incredibly
easy to find and secure basically any domain name
that’s out there and available for the taking. With extensions including
the classics like .com and .net and cooler ones
like .es like I used here and .me. When you want to actually
build a website for that domain name, Hover’s
connect feature will easily let you hook it up to tons
of different web services, including Square Space and Shopify. And if you want to create a
professional-looking email address attached to that
domain, then you can do that easily with Hover as well. So if you have an idea for a
fun side project that needs a domain name like I did,
or if you haven’t yet secured a professional
domain name for yourself in your job search, give Hover a try. And if you’re among the
first 100 people to grab your domain with the link
below, you’re going to get 10% off of your first order. I want to give Hover a
big thanks for sponsoring this video. And guys, as always, thank
you so much for watching as well. I really hope you found this video useful. If you did, you can give
this video a like to support this channel and if you
haven’t already, maybe consider sharing it with a friend as well. You can also subscribe
right there to get notified when new videos come out
and you can also click right there if you want to get a free copy of my book on how to earn better grades. Alternatively, you might want to check out our latest podcast episode
right there, or if you want to watch another video on this
channel, click right there or slam your face into your phone. That works as well. Anyway, thanks so much for
watching and I will see you in the next video.

100 Replies to “How to Create an Organized, Productive Study Space”

  1. One bonus tip: Experiment with the level and type of noise in your study environment. I can't study/work with silence because my brain can't help but pick up on small noises in the background (and from what I've read those TRULY silent rooms make you go crazy).

    Typically I work with music, and I've been building a study playlist for a couple years that I use quite often: https://collegeinfogeek.com/playlist/

    I've also linked to some other sources on that page, including a white noise generator if that's more your speed 🙂

  2. I am actually an avid listener and an actual pen addict lol I love pens and paper makes taking notes and studying fun

  3. I have tried setting up my own area before and finally what got me to do my work was to approach assignments like Ray Bradbury. By setting up a study place or what it really is a "work" place, I created this area in my house that I avoided because it was "Uh, work". The crazy thing is that I enjoy the process of studying. I know it is slow and steady and as long as I do it, well, it gets done. But by creating this study place or "work" place, I turned my assignments into that: work. Not the fun processes that their actually were. So now I work wherever. And it has been life changing. I changed my assignments in my head from "work" to "play" like Bradbury. And actually by changing the scenery, it has created the assignments to be more fun because they didn't hinder my true passion: travel. When I "travel" around my town (ot world) I will do some homework wherever I am — just tinker away at it. So even though this is the opposite of what you proposed, I suggest to people to try the Bradbury method and just treat your work like play.

  4. Thank you for pointing out having something to recording destractive thoughts. I do that all of the time and it has helped me to stay on task.

  5. Wait. So you’re telling me that I’m not crazy for finding my warmer lights annoying when I’m trying to focus?! Would this also be why I find studying is harder in the winter when the sun goes down faster and I’m only left with artificial lighting?

  6. 😭 I study in my room and god it’s so distracting but unfortunately I don’t have any library nearby neither do I have a coffee shop that’s suitable for studying…I wish I had somewhere else to study 😭

  7. I found this channel on the exact moment in my life, when i decided to be a organized person, and take school seriously. Thanks Man, your videos are a blessing

  8. haha well my only study space is the basement- definitely no natural lighting, and its freaking cold. But hey I only need one thing to be productive, suck it up and stop whining like a baby

  9. This video was insanely helpful. Love that you think like I do, the research phase isn't the only phase of learning as my stupid husband thinks it is. Unfortunately, also because of that nitwit, I'm stuck in tiny spaces for life that don't allow for a dedicated study space. We are currently in 600sf, our computers are sharing our first kitchen table, so making a dedicated space to study at and only for study right now is impossible. We are moving into 1123sf soon, which also won't have anything for me.im disparate enough right now that I'm considering taking up the handicap, wait to die in event of a fire space for study, since 99pct of the time nobody uses it for anything.

  10. Also if you can't control the temperature in your study environment, change up your study clothes. My college's library has tons of great study spots, other than the fact that they keep it like a walk-in freezer in there. So I just bring a sweatshirt and a hat in my backpack (even though it's 90 degrees outside) so I can study in comfort.

  11. I don't have a room nor any space where I can study peacefully please suggest me where I have to study since my board exams are the next month…… Pleaseee

  12. If your guitar learning was academic you will feel a bit less inclined to play it. I am a classically trained pianist and i have been doing it for the last 11.5 years and let me tell you, some days I just feel like NO. I love it with all my heart but because I always feel like omg exams and I have to keep up and whatever, i feel less inclined to do it.

  13. Use an internet app to block everything else…. lol sure on all 5 of my devices that are right beside me lol, nice try

  14. So im a truck driver trying to better himself and get out of the industry. I was always a terrible student so I have no idea how I study best at all. I spend 90% of my waking hours in a switch truck which is impossible to make into a 'study only' zone. Im wondering if you have any tips that might help? I know it's an odd situation.

  15. My biggest tip – wear socks. The amount of times I'm procrastinating or not getting s**t done is because I'm not wearing socks. Not trolling.

  16. Tell me some sites,videos or cheap books from which I could learn programming in free .

    Please sir help me
    Your videos help me a lot so I think you will make an mind blowing helpful video.

  17. I use 2 different operating systems. Windows for fun and gaming and mac for working and studying. That way I’m more focused on getting work done.

  18. Nice video but one big flaw: You didn't show a picture of the Cologne University of Applied Sciences but of the University of Cologne. Extremely poor research… 😉 Maybe your lighting was sub-par…

  19. I’m sure the informations are good but it s impossible to watch for me. You’re too close and talk too fast, there’s no images about desk area where eyes can stop on and the brain can »print » or imagine. It’s like «I can’t breath ». It’s probably why you get so many thumbs down on an interresting subject…
    Also don’t forget we are not all native english speakers. If you go too fast, you loose viewers….
    Hope it might help.

  20. I love you videos and they are more than useful. However, you talk soooooooo fast and it affects my concentration on what you are saying, making it difficult for me to flow. I hope i get used to it fast

  21. Thanks so much for the recap at the end! Seeing all the tips in written form all in one screen really helps me remember them all.

  22. Having a notebook exclusively for distractions is ingenuous! And switching locations like changing positions(sitting-standing) is useful

  23. 1. study area
    2. lighting
    3. room temperature
    4. experiment with the level and type of noise in your environment
    5. complete study materials
    6. comfortable chair and desk
    7. have a notebook for distractions
    8. no phone (ex: cold turkey writer)
    9. make a note of the potential things that could derail you
    10. clean your study space back to neutral
    11. view your study space as a work in progress
    12. switch locations in between tasks (concentration circuit)

  24. i dont have my own room i just sleep in living room and its so hard to study there, mom refuse bringing a office for me she sais that there's no space, i wish I could have my own room even a small small room 💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔

  25. My problem is my home is terrible environment for studying, if I want to go to a place to study there must be adult supervision.
    Tips where I can go? (Also im homeschooled so i cant study at the school)

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