Nursing school is filled with tough coursework, challenging exams, and hands-on clinicals. Critical information to learn, memorize, and practice are important components for any nursing student. However, trying to balance studying and coursework, alongside your obligations outside of school, can feel like an uphill battle. The good news is that with some strategy, planning, and organization, you can create a productive study environment fit for tackling any assignment or exam.
Creating a designated distraction-free zone is key to a productive work environment. Whenever possible, your study space should just be used for studying. Making it a designated study area will preserve its association with learning.
When studying, the phone can be the biggest source of distraction, affecting your focus and time management. Turn off the phone, silence it, or switch it to airplane mode. While easier said than done, switching it off can be mentally liberating. Unless you’re expecting an important call, do it whenever you sit down to study.
Humans love natural light. It can make or break a space, as anyone who’s worked under fluorescents for nine hours a day knows. Even a little reflected natural light can bring warmth and vitality to a room, which are necessary for making a productive study space. Try setting up a small desk or table near a window that would allow for natural light to filter in during study time. Natural light is healthy for you physically and emotionally.
Eye strain can occur if you try to read or focus on a computer screen for too long in a dimly lit area. Regular room lights may not be enough to support good vision hygiene for extended periods of study. Make sure that your learning area has plenty of light. For reading, it can be effective to have the light behind you, going over your shoulder to illuminate your textbook. For your desk, position the base of lamp shades at chin level, so the source is always out of view.
Comfort does not necessarily mean slouched back on the couch. Choose a chair that offers support and comfort. The best chairs for studying offer ergonomic support, which eases you into a neutral sitting posture. This position improves your mood and the ability to focus, allowing you to breeze through lessons considerably faster.
Attempt to sit so that your feet can be flat on the floor with your knees at 90 degree angles. The table top should allow you to rest your forearms on the table or be able to type without any stress on your joints.
Some students love listening to music while they review notes. Songs can put you in a good mood, but if you find yourself paying more attention to lyrics than the procedures you’re supposed to learn, music is counterproductive—and not something you’ll hear in a test room.
Instead, try an ambient noise machine or program, or at least switch to classical music. Orchestras can produce the same pleasant effects without taking your mind off the words on a page.
If you need a little pick-me-up before studying, try some essential oils. Lavender, rosemary, and peppermint oils have been shown to increase concentration and retention. Try diffusing the oils or dabbing a little on your wrists before sitting down to a study session.
Unless you thrive on clutter, tidy up your space to reduce distractions. Pick a place where you can set up your computer, books, and supplies. You don’t want to re-create all of these items every time you work. Invest in a desk organizer, which is a great way to keep the necessary supplies that you use often, within reach.
Make tidying up the space part of the study process. Tidying up at the end of the study session will keep notebooks, dividers and binders as neat as possible for the time.
Time management and prioritizing are everything. Schedule out a time to study—don’t just leave it until you feel like it. Having a schedule to refer to each day can help you better allocate your time, prioritize your tasks, and identify when you can (and should) take breaks throughout the day. Avoid procrastination and wasting time on activities that don’t contribute to your goals.
When studying, the clock can be your best friend or your worst enemy. Keeping an eye on the time gives a sense of urgency or distracts from the work. Use the clock to your advantage by setting time-related goals. Before starting an assignment, decide what time you plan to finish, and use the clock to keep moving forward.
For the most efficient, distraction-free use of your workspace:
If you don’t have room for a traditional college desk setup, wall desks are perfect for even the smallest study spot. Some are designed to go in unused corners, others fold up and out of the way when you’re not working, and all of them give you the workspace you need. Grab a desk lamp with a clamp for a direct light source for your study zone.
If you do not have enough space for a wall mounted desk, a portable bed desk is another option. While it is not the ideal situation to be studying in, sometimes you just have to make do with what you have got. A portable bed desk will provide you with the necessary support to write or use your laptop while on your bed. With features such as mini drawers, cup holders, and adjustable legs, you should be able to get one of these mini desks to the most comfortable height for working as well.
The place you pick to study should be near you (ideally somewhere in your home) so it’s accessible, but it should also be a place you like. Studying can be stressful, so it’s best done in a place with colors and decor that appeal to you.
Leave some room to put up your awards and accolades. This award center helps build self-esteem while maintaining focus through positive reinforcement. Children and adults often forget the progress they are making along the way. Putting up accolades is a gentle, yet straightforward, reminder that hard work does pay off.