Hello My Socratica Friends! We’re here to
help you be a GREAT student. And being a great student should happen not only at school,
but also when you get home. So – be honest – when you try to study at home, do you find
yourself distracted? Do you keep looking at the TV? Your phone? If you are really serious
about being a Great Student, you need to give yourself a place where that can happen. Today
we’ll talk about how to make a productive workspace that lets you focus on your studies. First, decide where in your home you want
to study. NOT your bed. Your bed is for sleep! Don’t let yourself muddy the waters and
use a place where sometimes you work, sometimes you relax. Ideally, this should be a special
place you set aside where ALL you do is study. It doesn’t have to be big. There just needs
to be enough room for a small table and chair. Pick something that suits your needs. You
don’t have to spend a lot of money on special office furniture. One of my friends bought
a picnic table for her study space – she could spread out her books, and even have her study
group over so they could all work together. If you can, pick a study space that’s away
from obvious distractions. For instance, you don’t want your TV to be in earshot! Do
you live on a busy street? Move your desk away from the window to the opposite wall,
where it should be a little quieter. That window, though – that can be really nice
for natural light. If that’s not convenient, consider getting a full-spectrum light. You
should think about a good lighting situation for when you study at night anyway. If you follow the principles of Feng Shui,
you will want to pick what’s called the “Command Position.” This means – basically
– face the door diagonally from the other side of the room. You don’t want to be distracted
by the idea that someone could sneak up on you. If you face the door, you’ll be prepared
to deal with anything that comes at you, including opportunities! Next let’s talk about how to ORGANIZE your
workspace. Most people fall into two camps – either they like their desk perfectly bare,
or they want absolutely everything out where they can see it. Which are you? Here’s a
hint – what does your computer desktop look like? Hey, it’s okay. Don’t try to force
yourself to be one or the other. Do what comes naturally to you. That’s not to say it’s okay to strew things
around so badly that there’s no place to sit. Or, for that matter, putting things away
so quickly that you don’t know how to find them again. The trick is to have a very deliberate
way to organize yourself, both with your office supplies, and with all your digital files. Above all, make sure things are easy to find.
We probably want to make an entire video about staying organized, but here are FIVE quick
tips to get you started: 1) Label all your papers – your class notes,
your homework, your quizzes and tests. 2) Designate a separate notebook or binder
for each class, and store all your papers there. 3) Treat computer docs and other digital files
the same way – they need to be very well labeled so you can search for them. I always put the
year, then month, then day (that’s the best way for sorting) – and then the name of the
class, and then the specific subject. 4) Create folders for your digital files that
are also well-labeled, so it’s really easy to find everything. 5) You can also apply automatic
LABELS to your EMAILS and then SORT them into FOLDERS. Can you tell I like putting things
away? Even if you’re one of those people who needs
to see everything – that’s no excuse for using up every inch of your desk. Make sure
to leave enough room for your computer or laptop, a notebook, and a book. If you don’t
have room for these things, you’ll find yourself balancing things in your lap, dropping
things on the floor, and hunching over your desk. Speaking of your posture – we need to talk
about Ergonomics. Put simply, you may be hurting your body by not placing your computer monitor,
the keyboard, the mouse, etc. in the right places. This can lead to pinched nerves and
repetitive stress injuries like Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Your workspace should be adjusted
to fit your body, not the other way around. You should be able to extend out your arms
to type or write something without straining or bending into weird positions. And you should
be able to look straight ahead at your monitor. If any of these things are not happening naturally,
it’s time to move things around. Again, you don’t necessarily have to spend a lot
of money to make your setup more ergonomic. You can lift your monitor up with some bricks
or some books. A lot of it is just awareness. Take a moment before you start working, when
first you sit down at your desk, to make sure your keyboard and mouse are in the right place
so you don’t have to strain or pretzel yourself into some weird position. Don’t forget to check your chair as well!
Is it adjustable? Ideally, you should be able to sit up straight in your chair, with your
feet flat on the ground. You might have to add a pillow. We do care about your well-being here at Socratica.
That’s why we’re making these videos free for the world. That’s not to say they’re
free to make. If you enjoy our content, you can help us continue by supporting us on Patreon.
Now let’s get back to whipping your desk into shape. So you can get good grades. And
get a good job. And then support us on Patreon. It might be easiest if you start with a bare
workspace, and then add in what you need. The organizational expert Marie Kondo suggests
you have a few categories of things to keep at your desk: Books, Papers, Miscellaneous
items, and Sentimental objects. Put these into separate piles, and consider if you really
need each of these things out on your desk. Store everything else away, out of sight. Which miscellaneous do-dads do you need on
your desk for studying? Probably: Pencils, Pens, Highlighters. Sticky notes. Flash cards.
Get yourself a little container to keep these organized – it doesn’t HAVE to be anything
fancy, but you can treat yourself and get a fun, decorative container if you’d like.
Now you have a definite place for all of these things at your fingertips, so you don’t
have to get up and hunt around for them. We’re not saying you should never get up
from your desk. In fact, you should PLAN to get up from your desk very regularly. Sitting
immobile at your desk for hours is not good for your health, and it’s simply impossible
to stay focused on your studies for hours at a time. That’s why one of our most important
study tips is to use the Pomodoro Technique. Basically you set a timer for 20-25 minutes,
and you stay completely focused during that time. Don’t let anything distract you. When
the timer goes off, get up, stretch, and walk around. We made a whole video about the benefits
of using the Pomodoro Technique (seriously, it’s magic). Find the links in the description
below. Another option to consider, which MIGHT be
healthier, is a standing desk. Or a treadmill desk! Honestly, we find the traditional desk
just fine, with the caveat that you do have to get up and move around regularly. You know what you DON’T need at your desk?
Your phone. Seriously, almost everyone we know has a real problem with picking up their
phone every few minutes. Put it across the room when you study. And turn off notifications.
Just because a bell rings, that doesn’t mean you have to hop to it and answer it right
away. Your phone works for YOU, not the other way around. Put it back in its place and focus
on your studies. If you really want to, you can spend your Pomodoro breaks on your phone.
But it would probably be better if you went for a walk and rested your eyes. Now I know that things aren’t always so
easy to control. Maybe it’s not up to you how to arrange the furniture in your house.
Maybe you can’t study at home at all, and you have to squeeze in your studies in the
hours between your classes. Just try to apply these ideas where you can. Even if you’re
studying in the library instead of your own place, think about the best place to sit and
how to minimize distractions by only taking out the tools you really need. Use a library
carrel that blocks out visual distractions. Bring earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones.
Taking control of your study space – it’s all part of being a GREAT student. Subscribe for more SMART advice from Socratica.