Everyone knows there are times when, for any number of reasons, you’ll have to study or work from your home as opposed to a communal space, office, library, or cafe. Unlike these other locations, studying from home–while convenient–poses its own issues, including distractions and creating a mood that pushes you more to relax than be productive.
With that in mind, New York Film Academy (NYFA) has put together these tips to create a productive study space in your home. Even the smallest touches can pay off dividends with your work, studies, and creative output!
Ensure ideal lighting
One of the first things students at NYFA’s Filmmaking and Cinematography students learn is color temperature–sunlight has a bluish hue and indoor lighting typically has a warmer, orange hue. Even if you’ve never overtly noticed this, your brain subconsciously has, and studies have shown that your body responds to sunlight and can be both physically invigorating and beneficial to your mood.
To that end, make sure you find a space that has access to natural light. Sometimes, this isn’t possible, but there are alternatives such as cool temperature bulbs and “happy lights” that you can place on your desk and keep you from getting the indoor doldrums.
Add some green
Have an empty surface or open area on your wall in your study space? Try adding a plant or two. Adding some green near your study area can make your personal space seem more serene and lively, making it perfect for staying focused. Plants may also add a bit of color and are said to improve indoor air quality, according to institutions like NASA. Having one or more plants in your study area can make for a peaceful, stress-free environment.
Plant tip for beginners: All plants have different needs, so start out small with a low-maintenance plant like a succulent or tillandsia, then work your way up to a Chinese green, fiddle leaf fig, or a spider plant.
Your area should be clean, and free of clutter
While messy areas can often be part of the creative process, sometimes you just need to focus and clutter can be distracting and disabling to that process.
Here are a few tips to get your creative process going by removing clutter:
- Take what you need: When you’re grabbing things to take to your desk, kitchen table, bedroom, or any other space, make sure you only bring the essentials like your water bottle, a laptop, a notepad with your editor’s notes, and your camera to upload footage.
- Toss & trash: If you don’t need something for that study session, move it or throw it away. Try and remove all trash from your study area before you begin so you don’t get distracted by it being there later on. After your study session, clean up your area so you don’t have to do it the next time you are about to study.
- Create zones: Maybe your study area isn’t just one area and it involves multiple places to get things done. By organizing your projects to be done in a certain area on your desk or in your study area, you can organize and better prioritize your workload. In other words, when you mentally move, you physically move. For example: Perhaps the right side of the desk is for your computer and the left side of the desk is for handwritten notes, and maybe there is a couch nearby that is your designated space to focus on editing your projects.
Adjust the noise
Some of us love listening to music while working. Songs put us in a good mood, but it’s important to pay attention to the content we’re supposed to learn; otherwise, music can end up being counterproductive. It might be better to alter the type of music you’re listening to, trying tunes that help provide focus rather than distract from it. Try classical music, where large orchestras can produce pleasant mental effects without taking your mind off the words on a page.
Click here for a playlist from New York Film Academy with some of our favorite classical music.
Additionally, ambient noise, such as white noise, pink noise, etc. played in the background at a consistent level can help mask unwanted sounds. Some of these background noises can also include rainfall and waves crashing on the beach.
Click here for a Spotify playlist that NYFA has created with some of our favorites ambient sounds.
Alternatively, sometimes a change of music and turning up the beat can be all it takes to get you back into study mode, so click here for another Spotify playlist with some of our all-time favorite pop songs.
**Extra Tip** – Snack healthy
Remember always to keep handy some healthy snacks and a bottle of fresh water to keep your mental and physical energy up. Try to avoid over-consuming sugar and caffeine while studying, as the resulting crash could be counterproductive.
Here are some fantastic brain food snacks for studying:
Hummus and veggies
Toasted pumpkin seeds
Nutella energy bites