The library: a complex dedicated to studying. Books, computers, archives, service desks. The entire place is designed to help your academic progress. Yet for me, it’s always full of distractions. Even on a silent floor, I find myself people-watching, peering out of the window, or simply stressing that everyone else seems to be engaged in work while I’m not.
If you’re anything like me, then you might be interested in these alternative study spaces:
An off-campus café
A university library can be full of distractions in the form of friends and acquaintances. There are far too many conversations you can get sucked into when you’re trying to get your head down and work. Yet the gentle buzz of people around you can provide a great background noise to ease you into starting that assignment.
If you’re not bothered by working around people, then going to an off-campus café could be great for your studies. Indulge yourself with some good-quality caffeine, or see how long you can make that pot of tea last. The change in environment can also be refreshing.
Spare university rooms
If you do really need that peace and quiet, and don’t like working around other people, there are other spaces at university you can use.
Email your department (or even personal tutor) to talk about room bookings. There might be rooms set aside for group study that are free to use, or your department might have a computer lab or seminar room that’s available for a few hours a week.
Being in a similar setting to your lectures and classes might also jog your memory and be useful in your writing/revising process.
Weather-dependent, but if it is warm enough outside, lying on the grass or finding a park bench to sit on can provide a relaxing setting to finish that essay.
In exam season, grab some friends and test each other with flashcards. This way, you can soak up some Vitamin D and enjoy the sunshine whilst still staying on top of your work. If you’re using your laptop, make sure it’s not so bright outside that you can’t see what you’re doing!
A communal space or common room
Less busy than a library, but still with the relief of social breaks, a communal space within your college, house or flat could be where you’re most productive.
You can complain to others about your work, ask for feedback, or just begin to draft an assignment while half-concentrating on the telly. I find that this is best when you’re working on something of low importance, or something you’ve got lots of time for, like copying out your lecture notes or planning an essay.
Controversially, my room is my favourite place to do work. If you can get into a habit of sitting at your desk each day and closing those oh-so-distracting Facebook/Buzzfeed/Netflix tabs, your work will hugely benefit.
Here, you have the freedom to play music or sit in silence, to make teas and coffees and give yourself short but frequent breaks.
Some tips? Clear your desk at the end of the day so you can sleep with a clear head – out of sight, out of mind. Make sure you leave your room regularly (fresh air can be inspiring). If you can make a habit of working in your room, you’ll find that it’s the easiest and most convenient place to get things done.