This past year or so, I’ve found myself having to study in a lot of different places, away from my usual desk at Uni, because of having to return home due to COVID or taking the opportunity (when it was allowed) to visit people for extended periods of time as I didn’t know when I’d next be able to see them.
|My desk/usual study space.|
I’m always seeing beautiful ‘study space’ set-ups on Instagram, now more than ever with Uni having so much online teaching. But honestly, I’ve kind of never got that.
I’ve simply always been the sort of person who is quite happy to study anywhere. I never had a desk in my room growing up (and nor did I particularly want one), I was a spread out all my homework on the dining table sort of person and would just clear up when I needed to set the table for dinner.
And I’ve never enjoyed working at a library or in dedicated study spaces in my Sixth Form, I’d be far more productive in the common room.
I guess I’m just naturally the type of person who prefers the Temporary Study Space, which has its own perks and drawbacks. But the best part of being the sort of person who naturally prefers to have to create their own new study space every time they need to get some work done, is that I am now very adaptable and can work from anywhere in the world.
So, I figured I’d lay out some advice for anyone who ever has to work away from their usual desk and help you be as productive as usual, wherever you are.
Step One: Choosing your temporary study space
Now, this will vary depending on where you have available to study and what sort of atmosphere you usually like to study in. I personally enjoy having background noise, so I often set up near other people, as long as I won’t be in the way and get interrupted. If you prefer a quieter study space then you’ll need to find yourself somewhere where there will be no distractions.
I also prefer to be sat at on a chair and a table but I am also capable of getting comfy and studying anywhere, so if I have to I can study on a bed/sofa or sat on the floor with a coffee table.
Assess your options and decide what works best for you. Think about what sort of study space you usually prefer and what you’ll be doing (for example, if you just need to use a laptop, then you may be able to sacrifice the table but if you’re writing notes by hand you probably need a flat surface to work on). You may even decide to head to a coffee shop or a library if you can.
Some of my top temporary study spaces include:
- dining table
- coffee shop
- coffee table
- garden table (on a nice day!)
But you can apply this guide to anywhere that you decide to study.
Step Two: Setting up
Once you’ve decided where you are going to study, you should take some time preparing the space you have chosen.
A top tip of mine is to make sure you have a few items that are always going to be with you when you need to study. For me this includes a particular pencil case (I’m a big fan of the ones that stand upright and form themselves into something sort of like a desk organiser), my uni-work notepads (as opposed to any old notepad or piece of paper) and a hot drink. Laying out these items gets me into the work zone, as I know I only use these items when I am going to be doing work.
As well as items that you actually use while studying, you could include a particular mug or some sort of decoration (a studying totem, if you will). Basically the idea is to make yourself a ‘portable study zone’, by having a few bits and bobs that you always use or have around you during your study time.
So once you’ve gathered all your essential study materials (this could include a pencil case, as mentioned, some notepads and your laptop) and any extra bits you decide you want to have around you, you can begin setting up. This will involve simply removing anything that you don’t need or want, making the area nice and tidy (tidy space, tidy mind and all that) and laying out your items where you can easily reach for them.
There. Your temporary study space is ready!
Step Three: Getting yourself comfortable
|Bed studying, ft. Starbucks.|
The next step is all about getting yourself settled into your new study space.
Of course, the most essential part of this for me is making myself a hot drink. Usually I go for a coffee but I’ll occasionally mix things up with a tea. If you’re anything like me and get through multitudes of coffee a day, you could make yourself a cafetiere so that you don’t have to keep getting up to constantly put the kettle on.
Then, just get yourself comfy as you normally would. If this involves sticking on some music, then do that. If not, then don’t.
Step Four: Study!
Now you’re sitting comfortably, you should be ready to get studying!
|Using a window sill as a temporary desk.|
In short, really, the main idea is to find ways to make the space you find yourself studying as similar to your usual study space as possible, and to try and obtain the same conditions you would usually study in.
I’ve always liked to mix up my study space, especially during lockdown, so that I didn’t get bored of my surroundings but I know that many people find it hard to study away from their usual area. But hopefully, this little blog post makes studying in an inconvenient place just a little more convenient.