As I sit here in the But under the beautiful chandeliers, surrounded by hundreds of overcaffeinated students, I can’t help but dream of my dorm room, that cozy space devoid of radiating stress, smelly students, and leftover ButCaf muffins. Dorm conditions aren’t necessarily conducive to productivity in most cases, but there are still ways to make your room a great study space.
Whether you’re too tired to trek to a library or you just don’t want to face the world just yet, getting work done in your dorm is a great alternative to going to the library if you do it right. Even if you don’t have killer self control, studying in your room is possible with these tips.
Most of us have a hard time focusing when we’re working on our computers. The internet has a tendency to get in the way of our productivity, so force yourself off of those sites using SelfControl. This app, available for Macs here or as a Chrome extension here, lets you create a list of sites that it will then block for however long you plan on studying. No matter how many times you try to get on Facebook, it won’t let you.
Clear your desk of distractions
If you have a reading assignment and you’re not using your computer, put it far away from your desk. Same goes for your phone. Hide them under your bed or in a drawer so that they are out of sight and out of (your newly focused) mind. Make sure you’re also sitting in a chair at your desk, not in bed or on a couch. You’ll get more lethargic when laying down, and it’s not good for your posture.
Don't play music
Blasting music while reading “To the Lighthouse” might not be the most productive studying combination. Unless you really believe Kanye’s “The New Workout Plan” is the key to your success, exit out of Spotify and get your work done in silence, like you probably would at Butler.
If you’re incapable of doing anything without something going on in the background, find an instrumental soundtrack—something classical, a soundtrack to a film, or even some white noise.
Make sure your roommate is gone
Or at least that they’re so quiet you don’t know they’re there. Having a person around who is goofing off on the other side of the room will be a distraction.
You’ll burn yourself out pretty quickly if you don’t pencil in times to take a breather from your studying. That doesn’t mean that your studying-to-relaxing ratio should be 1:1, but a 15-minute break per hour spent studying is perfectly acceptable. Study breaks provide a good incentive to keep going—if you know you don’t have much longer until a break, you’ll be more likely to power through.
Staying in your comfy clothes and not having to deal with other people is definitely worth a little extra effort to stay focused. Use these tips to make your dorm a great option for a study sesh!
Isabella Monaco is Spectrum’s associate editor and a Barnard first-year. She’s constantly in her room. Invite her out at email@example.com.