Do you find it easier to study at a cafe or library than at home? Learn how to change the lighting, surroundings and ergonomics of your study area for maximum focus and concentration.
Table Of Contents
- Optimize Lighting | Take steps to ensure your workspace has bright, even and natural lighting, similar to your favourite study spot.
- Expand Your View | Rearrange your workspace to maximize the feeling of openness in your view.
- Restrict Interactivity | Remove everything within arm’s read except the essential items for the task at hand.
- Clean Up | Keep your study room clean and minimal.
- Fix The Ergonomics | Consider the comfort and design of the furniture and equipment you use to see if modifying or replacing them may boost your productivity.
1. Optimize Lighting
Lighting plays a huge role in concentration and focus. Think about how much more energetic you feel on a beautiful summer day vs. a gloomy and rainy winter day. Your mood is always influenced by its surroundings, and lighting is one of the most powerful influencers.
Cafes and commercial areas tend to have great even lighting (e.g. dozens of lights on the ceiling), whereas your room may only have one or two dim light sources.
In order to optimize lighting conditions, you must consider these 3 things:
- Evenness – Having only a few light sources results in lots of shadows. Whenever possible, always have at least 3 light sources from various angles.
- Direction – Bright light sources that are within your primary field of vision act as a distraction and hinder your focus. This is why commercial areas have the majority of their lights on the ceiling. Lights should always be positioned above, beside at a distance or from behind at an angle.
- Intensity – The best lamps are the ones that project light in all directions and provide an even glow. If a light source is bright enough to cause discomfort when you look directly at it, it should either be repositioned or covered with a light diffuser.
Designing A Well Lit Work Space
To create an optimized lighting environment, follow these 4 simple instructions:
- 3 or more light sources (sunlight from a window counts as 1)
- All light sources positioned either above you, beside you and at a distance, or behind you at an angle. There should be no light sources that shine into your eyes while sitting at your desk.
- Position the lights in a way that minimizes noticeable shadows over your work area.
- Cover any bright light sources that are within your view with a light diffuser. Alternatively, reposition the light to bounce off the wall or ceiling instead of directly at you.
2. Expand Your View
Small spaces are uncomfortable. You can’t make your room bigger, but you can make it feel bigger. By simply changing the position and direction of your desk, you can completely change the feel of your room.
- If you have a window – position your desk and chair so that the window beside or at an angle to your seated view.
- If you don’t have a window – position your desk and chair so that you face into the room from the outside.
- If you’re facing a wall, and you can’t change it – put up a large poster of a natural landscape or place a large mirror near your work area.
The important thing to remember is that you must create the impression of open space in front of you. The area behind you doesn’t matter because it’s not within your view when you’re sitting at your desk.
3. Restrict Interactivity
Unlike at cafes and libraries, at home you’re surrounded by stuff you can touch and interact with. That means everything around you is an opportunity to be distracted. Restrict potential interactivity by removing everything not required for the task at hand, including:
- cellphone, tablets and gaming devices
- non-essential books
- notes, scrap paper, stationary
If you don’t need it for what you are working on, move it at least 1.5 meters away (not within your reach).
4. Clean Up
As an extension to the previous step, clean up your whole room. You may not like to admit it, but being in a messy environment does impact your concentration and focus. How would you feel if you had to study in classroom that had clothes, dirty plates and garbage scattered across the room? Remove all non-essential items (things you don’t regularly use) from the area and keep things organized.
In fact, this is such has such a powerful influence on your productivity that there is a huge community around this topic, called minimalism.
5. Fix The Ergonomics
Ergonomics is the science of designing the equipment or interfaces we use for maximum comfort and productivity. This includes everything from the height and softness of your chair, the color and feel of your desk, the width and weight of the pen you use, and the design of your keyboard. It may seem trivial, but ergonomics has a huge effect on your ability to focus and maintain concentration.
Consider all of the details of your favorite study spot and compare it to your personal study area.
- Is the chair more comfortable?
- Is the table height more comfortable?
- Is the temperature better regulated?
- Does your neck or back hurt more when you study at home?
There are likely dozens of meaningful difference. And, collectively, they make are what help you be more productive in one area versus another.
Ergonomic furniture and equipment is a growing area, particularly among the tech companies, such as Google. If you visit their offices, you’ll see yoga balls instead of chairs and standing treadmill desks instead of regular computer desks.
Luckily, you don’t have to spend a fortune to create an ergonomic work station! Here are a few examples to get you going:
- Ergonomic chair – ~$20 for a 65 cm yoga ball to improve your posture and make sitting fun!
- Ergonomic desk – ~$60 for a rolling standing desk to keep your back safe and improve blood flow.
- Computer glasses – ~$20 for a pair of computer glasses that will significantly reduce eyestrain from staring at the monitor.