Getting Organized: Organizing Your Study Space (page 3)
The first thing to consider is finding a dedicated space to study and keep your supplies at home or in your dorm. You may have a desk in your room or in another part of the house, like in a family room or home office. Dedicate this spot to studying and keep it free from distractions.
Yes, there’ll be times when you’ll need to work in other places. For example, if you’re working on an art project, you might work in the kitchen or in the garage. If you’re reading, consider reading in your bedroom. Regardless of where you choose, it’s important to have one main space for your school work.
Helpful Items in a Good Study Space
You can go hog wild and find all kinds of furniture and equipment to organize your workspace, but you don’t need each and every organizational gadget out there. You just need some basic pieces. You can then consider some of the extra stuff.
A good study space should have the following:
- A work space (either a desk or table where you can write or draw or solve math problems): The space should have enough room for you to spread out your work so that you can keep the tools you need (paper, books, pen, protractor, calculator, and so on) at your fingertips.
- A good chair: You want something that’s comfortable and supports you with good posture. A bean bag chair, for example, isn’t a good study chair. Instead, use an adjustable office chair or other chair that’s the right height for your workspace.
- A place for books: You need a place to store the books you use frequently, such as a dictionary, thesaurus, or atlas. Keep your school books close by so that you don’t have to get up and find your backpack when you’re working on your homework. Use a small bookcase, desk drawers, or shelves on the wall.
- Good lighting: You need adequate lighting for you to see your work clearly. Sometimes, an overhead light is not enough, so consider a desk lamp or a floor lamp that shines light where you need it.
- Outlets: If you use a computer to do your homework or to study, you need access to outlets in which to plug in the computer, even if it’s a laptop. You’ll also need to plug in your desk lamp and any other equipment that requires electricity.
- Writing tools and other supplies: You might store your pens, pencils, rulers, protractors, and so on in a desk drawer or in a holder on your desk. Know what tools you need to complete your homework and make sure they’re handy.
In addition, your study space may include other elements that help you organize your work. Consider buying a filing cabinet to keep all your files organized into folders. Or you might create labeled boxes (a la Martha Stewart) to keep your supplies organized and looking neat and chic.
A bulletin board is a great addition. You can post reminders of upcoming assignments, including a calendar of key assignment dates. As another alternative, you may have a large desk calendar that you use to write down assignments and test dates. The “Managing Your Time” section goes into more detail about managing your schedule using tools like these.
Put Stuff Back!
If you work on an assignment in another area, put your supplies back where you normally keep them. This saves you from searching the house for the colored pencils you need to finish a social studies project that are not in their designated spot.
Your study area should not include distractions. These include TVs, game systems (PlayStation, Xboxes, Gameboys, and so on), and music (stereos, iPods, Walkmans, or other portable players). You may think that you can read or study with MTV on in the background, but chances are, you’ll get distracted. Either place your study area away from your entertainment area or make sure all of this equipment is off and stays off.
Also, don’t answer your phone while you’re studying unless it’s important. In fact, you might turn off your cellphone if you get a lot of calls. Unless an important call comes through, let the answering machine or voice mail pick up or tell the person you’ll call back. It’s too easy to get involved in a conversation and forget about your homework.
Finally, if you work on a computer, don’t let e-mail — and especially Instant Messaging — distract you from doing your work. You can send a quick message to your online buddies saying that you’re busy and will connect with them later. Note that this takes discipline, but guarding your time and space ensures you have the time you need.
Organizing Your Space at School
Even though you may have a desk and some type of storage space for your books and supplies at school, you should still keep these items organized. Put stuff back so that you know where to find it. Keep your locker and desk clean (recycle any papers you don’t need, for example). Use any assignment tools provided by your school, such as an assignment board or assignment notebook.