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How Your Study Environment Affects Productivity (And How You Can Improve It)

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Making flashcards. Using post-it notes to mark key passages in books. Relaxing in a comfy chair with the perfect cup of coffee. Creating successful study habits can be a challenge for any student, and can be even more difficult for the millions of students that take online classes. Online courses are accessible, convenient and often very flexible with your busy schedule. However, online students can sometimes struggle with staying motivated and focused during their online degree programs. Juggling work and family obligations as well as school can feel overwhelming. Because online students often take classes and complete course work at home, creating a distraction-free, quiet study area is important.

Here are some tips to promote productivity and create the perfect study environment:

  • Make time for your online courses: Getting your degree online is a big commitment. Set yourself up for success by making time for your online studies. Create a schedule that allows a few hours every night or every few days specifically for your online course work, and stick to your schedule. Make sure that your studies are among your top priorities.
  • Minimize distractions: Are you a compulsive email checker? Do you find yourself browsing Instagram or checking tweets without even thinking about it, even though you just checked them three minutes ago? Remove the distractions. Turn off your phone and tuck it away in your bag or dresser drawer. Log out of Facebook. Clear off your desk so only the necessary study supplies are within reach. And perhaps most importantly, schedule time for breaks. Give yourself 10 minutes for each major task you finish, chapter you read, or other reasonable milestone. Then you won’t be as tempted to stop mid-sentence and go check out your news feed.
  • Get Comfortable – but not too comfortable: Sitting on your bed in your pajamas while logging into your course of study may be a unique perk of earning your degree online, but if you’re not careful, next thing you know you may be waking up from an unplanned nap, your laptop battery light blinking and whatever you were reading before dozing off a complete blur. Of course, the converse is true, too—if the chair you’re sitting in is hard and straight-backed and just plain uncomfortable, you’ll be squirming a lot more than you’ll be learning. Be aware of how you’re feeling. If you’re a little sleepy, avoid that overstuffed arm chair and opt for the desk in your den instead.
  • Find the right amount of background noise: Many students, especially those who are easily distracted or who have trouble keeping their attention focused, will find that it doesn’t take much noise to pull them out of their reading and into their surroundings. And it’s not just about volume – the din of a coffee shop may provide so much noise that it helps screen out other distractions, but a leaky faucet with its intermittent drips may drive you insane and cause you to reread the same sentence four or five times. Get to know yourself. Do you do better in silence, or are you the kind of student who thrives amid the buzz of background noise? Try a few settings, and pay attention to how each study session goes. Give the library a go one day, and see how that hushed environment works out. The next day, try a coffee shop or the park. Once you know how your brain handles noise, pick study locations that match your sound profile.
  • Keep a good attitude: Stay positive, determined and committed throughout your online degree program. A positive attitude can help you overcome challenges along the way and keep you on track toward graduation.

Where Do You Go to Learn?

Traditional students study, more often than not, in on-campus settings. For online students, however, who are juggling multiple responsibilities such as work, running to open houses, and picking the kids up from school, a little creativity is required. Some common study locations for non-traditional learners include:

At Home
Whether it’s after another day at work, during a snow day with your kids or on a Sunday afternoon, many online students opt to study right at home. Home is the most convenient option for many online students, but it can also be the most distracting. Find a designated spot in your house; free yourself from all disruptions and get down to business!

At Work
Your lunch break or between appointments is a great time to get some extra studying in for your online courses. Many students opt to study in the office rather than the living room to stay focused and to have a little extra time in the evenings.

Outdoors
If you are the outdoorsy type, online courses allow you to study alfresco when it’s convenient for you. Whether you’re sitting on your deck or on a blanket in your favorite park, you can get some extra reading done for your assignments under a sunny sky.

Coffee Shop
Get your caffeine fix while preparing for your next exam by studying at your favorite local coffee shop. Although some students find this setting distracting, others thrive in this environment. This setting is great for those students on the go who are, often, traveling between workout classes, social commitments and more.

Tell us! What’s your favorite study spot?

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