Switching from in-person learning to online learning can be difficult for anyone and many people have trouble focusing while at home compared to being in the classroom, but we've all had to make adjustments due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you’re one of those people, like myself, then you may find one of the eight tips below to be helpful. In order to be productive in studying, it is important to first have a productive study space that is rid of any kind of distractions. Below you will find eight tips to help turn your home-study area into a productive medical student study space.
Have Adequate Lighting
When studying for long periods of time, it becomes very easy to strain your eyes. In order to help reduce that strain, it’s important to be able to have good adequate lighting. Not only will having adequate lighting reduce the strain on your eyes, but it will also prevent you from falling asleep, making it easier to focus on studying. It is helpful to have not only an overhead light in your room but also a desk lamp to be able to focus on what is directly in front of you.
Having adequate lighting is crucial for a productive study space. Photo: Kristen Scholl.
In order to be at maximum productivity, it’s important to remove the things that are going to decrease that productivity. The best example of one such distraction is a cell phone. If you find that you often drift away from the computer and are scrolling through social media often, you may want to leave your phone in the other room so you’re not as tempted to be on social media or text your friends. Another thing that students find as an easy distraction is going to other websites such as Facebook or YouTube, or maybe to even do a little online shopping. If you are someone that does this, consider getting an app for your laptop; this can even be used on your phone, one that will block any website that may be a distraction for you. Removing all distractions from the room will help you be able to focus on studying. It is important to get rid of these distractions because these are the things that will kill your productivity.
Now that you’ve removed all the distractions from the room, the next step is to make everything organized and easily accessible. If you’re wanting to do practice questions but cannot find where that PDF version is, you’re more likely to waste valuable study time in search of that one document. It’s important to have both your desk and laptop organized, so you know where everything is at and can easily access the resources that you need.
Have Everything On Hand
Coinciding with Tip 3, is make sure you have everything that you may need on hand. Think that you’ll need your First Aid book and a set of highlighters? Then make sure that you have that within reach before you sit down to start studying. This will save you time from getting up and going to get the item you need, saving you from getting distracted by something else.
It is important to always have water at your desk. Even if you don’t feel thirsty, it’s important to always stay hydrated. Staying hydrated can help maintain focus and can even help to boost exam scores because of this focus. While, at the time when you start studying you may not feel thirsty or in the mood to drink water, its vital that you have it on hand just in case for when you do get the point that you need to quench your thirst. This will eliminate you needing to get up and get a glass of water, saving time, and preventing you from killing your productivity.
Keep a to-do list in a place where you can see it so once you complete a task, it's easy to see what other tasks are left in the day. Photo: Kristen Scholl
In order for you to maximize your productivity it’s important to have a plan of what you’re going to do for the day. Some people like to create their to-do lists the night before, others like to create it in the morning as their day begins. Whatever your preference is, just make sure to plan. Having a to-do list will eliminate the feeling of now what should I do? A to-do list will help in preventing you from scrolling onto social media and keeping you focused at the task at hand. Along with creating the to-do list, it is also beneficial to have it in a spot that you are going to be able to see it; that way, once you complete one task, it’s easy to glance over and see what other tasks are still left in the day to complete, again minimizing distractions and maintaining productivity.
Elevate Your Laptop
Most people just set their laptop on their desk and get to work. At the end of the day, they may feel like their neck begins to cramp or feel the need to constantly be moving their head in order to stretch their neck, creating a big distraction. This is caused by having their computer at an angle that is causing them to strain their neck throughout the day causing pain later at night. Once you start to feel that pain in your neck or even your back, the productivity is going to decrease because you’re going to be focusing more on the pain and less on the work that needs to get done. To resolve this problem a desktop stand or laptop stand is recommended. If you don’t want to buy or don’t believe that it will work, you can always try placing a few books underneath your laptop, making sure that the computer is at eye level.
Blue Light Glasses
The eighth and final tip for creating a productive study space and maximizing that study space is to wear blue light glasses. Staring at a computer screen for 10 hours in a day can really cause a strain on one’s eyes and can also affect the ability to sleep at night. To prevent this, you can purchase a pair of blue light glasses off most websites. This will help to reduce the strain on your eyes and also help you sleep better at night.
(Top photo) An elevated laptop & a well-organized study space will make you more productive. Photo: Kristen Scholl.
Built in the tradition of the best U.S. universities, the University of Medicine and Health Sciences focuses on individual student attention, maintaining small class sizes and recruiting high-quality faculty. We call this unique approach, “personalized medical education,” and it’s what has led to our unprecedented 96% student retention rate, and outstanding residency placements across the USA and Canada. UMHS is challenging everything you thought you knew about Caribbean medical schools.
Kristen Scholl is a second-year UMHS medical student who has interests in orthopedic medicine and sports medicine. She is also a senior UMHS Media Ambassador in St. Kitts.