More from your peers
HOW TO SET UP A ZEN STUDY SPACE
By Johanna Cusack
Hi there! My name is Johanna, and I’m currently in my 4th year at the University of Notre Dame. I’m studying a Bachelor of Secondary Education and Arts, majoring in English and Modern History. I also run a studygram which I have recently revamped, and have been posting images of my notes, study spaces and learning achievements since 2017. Here are my top 5 tips for creating a study space that works for you.
1. Position your desk or study space in a spot with lots of natural light.
My desk is predominantly under the window to make it super bright and inviting. I also have it next to my bookshelf and whiteboard—this is the “business” area of my room, completely separate from where I sleep.
2. Clear off your desk.
On my desk I usually have my laptop, second screen, iPad, and either a notepad or a small whiteboard to jot things down. I find that clearing my desk before I study (I have a separate 3-tier trolley next to my desk where I keep the things I don’t immediately need) helps me to get in the ‘zone’ and study more effectively.
3. Work smart and use apps.
I use quite a few apps to help me stay organised and on top of my work during the semester. One of my favourites is Notion which is a workspace similar to Google Drive but helps to keep everything in one place. I write my iPad notes using Goodnotes, which also allows me to annotate lecture slides and readings before and after the lecture. There’s definitely more apps out there which are amazing, but these are my two favourites that I have used a lot in the last 3 years.
4. Listen to music.
Studying is not something that comes naturally to a lot of people, so use some tunes to help you to get stuck into your work! My favourites are the “Instrumental Study” or “Mozart Study” playlists on Spotify. I do also use the free “Tide” app for a looped sound in the background—“Alps” and “Muse” are my favourite sound scenes.
5. Revamp your study space.
If you find your study space is getting a bit boring consider brightening it up! I changed my desk surface from plain black to marble a few years ago using some Kmart vinyl adhesive. You could also grab some fake plants, fairy lights, or create a moodboard with some of your favourite photos from Pinterest. It’s super cheap and does wonders for how my desk looks and feels!
Above all, remember that what works for others may not work for you! You don’t have to have all the gadgets and all the pens—as tempting as they may be—to succeed at university. Play around with your space before classes start to get a sense of what works. Your space does not have to stay exactly the same throughout the semester – as your circumstances and study loads change, you might have to make some adjustments.