In college, your dorm room is your haven from the outside world. What little privacy you have in college is confined within those four walls that contain your bedroom, kitchen and living room all in one compact space. And most of the time, only half of this already small space is yours.
Unfortunately, your room often serves as your study space as well, and when the library’s hours don’t sympathize with your impending all-nighter, your cozy bedroom must suddenly become study central. If you’re easily drawn away from your studies by your inviting bed and the newest episode of Grey’s Anatomy, read on for five tips on how to avoid temptation and ace your next test from the comfort of your dorm room.
1. Study at Your Desk
If your organic chemistry notes weren’t already putting you to sleep, getting into your bed definitely will. As enticing as your down comforter and fluffy pillows may look after a long day in class, don’t fall to temptation! Nothing is worse than getting in bed with three chapters to read for class and waking up eight hours later with the unopened book in your lap.
Art Markman, a psychology professor at the University of Texas at Austin, says that “the body’s habit when lying down is to relax and sleep,” so as you lay in bed flipping through your notes, your body actually takes a less active role in your studying. To fight your body’s natural desire to sleep, sit at your desk and mimic the feeling of sitting in class.
“I always find that if I’m studying in my dorm room I have to stay away from my bed; it’s too comfy and it puts me to sleep!” says Nadia, a senior at Rutgers University. As an alternative, Nadia suggests sitting at your desk and using a lot of light to keep you awake and focused on your studies. To make sure you accomplish everything on your to-do list, reserve your bed for sleeping and stick to your desk chair. Getting in bed when you’re done will be the perfect reward!
2. Keep Your Study Space Neat
If you’re looking to buckle down and memorize five chapters for your next test, organize your space and get rid of the makeup and snacks that seem to always be covering it. Limit your distractions by keeping your desk solely for studying! When you have such a small space to work in, organizing it can make you more focused, so gear your work space toward the type of homework you’re doing and check out some of HC’s favorite school supplies for a little desk inspiration.
3. Control Your Environment
When your entire hall seems to have no homework to do, silence can seem like a thing of the past. With noise-canceling headphones or quality earplugs, you can make the ruckus of college life fade away. Spotify, with the help of clinical psychologist Dr. Emma Gray, conducted a study that reveals the benefits of engaging your brain with music to complement your learning.
The music you choose and the beats per minute of that music should be based on the information you’re learning. For example, classical music with 60-70 beats per minute stimulates learning and enhances concentration for mathematicians, whereas pop music with 50-80 beats per minute allows the left side of your brain to take control, which is helpful for people studying the sciences, humanities and languages.
If studying to music isn’t for you, try out some nice earplugs available at drugstores like CVS, Walgreens and Target to seclude yourself and hit the books. Most dorms have RA-enforced “quiet hours,” and your roommate would most likely be willing to hang out in another room if you’re looking for complete silence. Noise can be the biggest distraction from your studies, so try to get some quiet time while you review!
4. Limit Your Internet Usage
As college students, most of us fear missing a crucial tweet, Instagram or status update. In the hopes of staying constantly up to date, we leave tabs open for Facebook and Twitter for those “five-minute study breaks” that stretch into an hour.
Free Internet applications like SelfControl for Macs and Cold Turkey for PCs allow you to manually limit your access to various websites. You can set a list of sites you don’t want to access and both applications will block the addresses on your list for whatever time you choose. The beauty of social media is that all of those posts will still be there when you’re done, so you’re not really saying “goodbye,” but rather, “see you soon” to your digital friendships. A Facebook hiatus will keep you from complaining about your homework so that you have time to actually do it!
If you’ve downloaded every social media app on your phone like we have, try turning your phone off, or, if you have an iPhone, putting it on “do not disturb.” This setting on the iPhone silences calls, alerts and notifications so that you won’t be tempted to check your most recent texts. Your friends can also help keep you on track by safeguarding your phone or changing your social media passwords for you so you won’t even be able to log back on until they let you! They’ll be more than happy to save you from the temptation around you.
5. Take Breaks
Research shows that taking scheduled breaks from your studies can make your brain more alert and productive. If you ever feel like you’ve been staring at a computer screen or book for too long, it’s probably because you have been! University of Illinois psychology professor Dr. Alejandro Lleras states that“constant stimulation is registered by our brains as unimportant, to the point that the brain erases it from our awareness.”
The Pomodoro Technique suggests taking breaks every 25 minutes to maximize your productivity during any given task. Breaking the material into chunks will make your homework feel much more manageable, and while taking a break may feel like a waste of time, the material will feel much fresher than before when you come back to it. Make your breaks productive by making yourself a cup of coffee or exercising. Both will wake your body up, making your next chunk of studying much more productive. You’ll be surprised how much more efficient you can be just by taking a few breaks!
These five easy tips will put your dorm room’s versatility to good use and save you from mind-numbing hours spent in the library. Maybe your own room will turn out to be the perfect study spot you’ve been searching for all year!