As educators, we know how essential it is for our students to have good study spaces and routines. This is especially true in our digital world, where technology can provide both advantages and distractions to learning. We can empower our students and help set them up for success by teaching the following best practices for establishing effective study spaces and routines. Sharing these strategies with families can help them reinforce and support the routines at home.
The strategies listed below are written with the student as the intended audience, so you may share them directly with your students. You can also share this flyer with your students and families, as it conveniently summarizes the suggestions in a one-page document.
5 Strategies to Establish an Effective Study Space and Routine
To ensure you have time to work on your studies, schedule a consistent time every day for studying so that it becomes part of your daily routine.
- Select a time of day when you are at your mental peak. Everyone’s internal clock is different; select a time that works best for you (before school, after school, evening).
- Add a recurring event on your digital calendar. Turn on your calendar notifications to alert and remind you. It can be especially helpful to turn on the notification on your phone.
- Break learning time into 20- or 30-minute chunks to maintain stamina and productive focus. Take 2- to 5-minute screen-time, stretch, and brain breaks between each chunk of learning. To monitor your time, use the digital timer on your phone or a website like Classroomscreen (Tips).
Carefully select a consistent study space that is conducive to learning.
- Select a space where you can best concentrate and focus.
- Choose a space with good lighting, preferably natural light, to avoid eye strain.
- Set up the furniture and equipment to avoid muscle strain, fatigue, and injury.
- Adjust your desk, chair, keyboard, and monitor so that your wrists are flat when typing, your elbows are at your sides and shoulders are relaxed, your feet are flat on the floor and knees are at a 90-degree angle; your back is straight and supported (maintain good posture, avoid slouching), and you can look eye level to slightly down at your monitor.
- If using a laptop or Chromebook, consider using an external keyboard, mouse, and/or monitor. That way, you can better adjust your environment to best suit your body.
- Adjust your monitor settings for brightness, contrast, color, and font size (zoom) to avoid eyestrain. Blink often and regularly look away from the screen.
- If possible, create a station that can be adjusted, so you can also stand while working.
- See A Guide to Creating an Ergonomic Workstation for Studying by Maryville University for more suggestions.
- Organize your space with the learning materials and digital tools you need for studying.
- Post a sign, or alert your family, when you are studying in this space, so they know not to interrupt you.
Distractions will cost you time, and multitasking is proven to be highly inefficient. Create a distraction-free environment so that you can be focused and productive.
- Keep your space organized and decluttered. Routinely tidy-up your space.
- Wear noise-cancelling headphones to reduce hearing family and home noise.
- Control digital distractions and multitasking.
- Silence your phone and turn off notifications.
- Mute social media tabs using a Chrome extension like Mute Tab.
- Close extra browser tabs and programs not needed for the task at hand.
- Work on digital files in offline mode to avoid the temptation of opening other sites. See Google’s Use Google Drive Files Offline and Microsoft’s Can I Work Offline?
- Use website blockers like StayFocusd, a Chrome extension that allows you to control when you have access to tempting sites.
- Avoid listening to music, or at least songs with lyrics. Listening to music causes your brain to multitask. For some, background noise helps us focus, but for all of us, studies have shown that listening to music with lyrics uses the same part of our brain that is needed to read, listen, or view resources when studying. It is better to listen to your music before your study session or as part of brain breaks to positively impact your mood. To learn more, see Don’t Listen to Music While Studying from Edutopia.
The following tips will help ensure that your study time is both efficient and effective.
- Review your planner or calendar for upcoming deadlines.
- Set and/or review your learning goals and action steps (see SMART Goal Template).
- Create and maintain a task list for your study sessions by using a tool like Google Keep or Microsoft To Do.
- Prioritize your assignments and start with the three most important tasks to complete.
- Avoid procrastination by starting with your most challenging assignment first to ensure that you have stamina to complete it. Alternatively, you can start with easy tasks first to get things rolling, and then shift to the more challenging assignment. Your choice depends upon your style; try both and see which style works best for you.
- Read your assignment directions carefully. Review and organize class notes and materials.
- Seek help as needed. You can use the “Three Before Teacher” strategy (3 B4 T) for seeking help independently and from classmates before reaching out to your teacher for assistance.
- Use accessibility tools as needed to assist you as you study. To learn more, check out the AVID Open Access article about empowering students with accessibility tools.
Along with studying, use the following suggestions to help you be prepared for the next day’s class.
- Recharge your school device so that it’s fully charged.
- Recharge yourself.
- Exercise to reduce anxiety and stress.
- Fuel your body and mind by eating well and drinking plenty of water.
- Get plenty of rest to avoid sleep deprivation, which negatively impacts your brain function.