by Sarah Wilkinson, Class of ’17
When it comes to typing a million pages worth of essays before finals, it’s no longer a choice between Netflix or doing the dreaded homework. It’s crunch time and you need maximum productivity. The only problem is, you can’t focus! Here are some tips for creating a productive workspace in your room, or wherever you are.
- Temperature – The ideal working temperature is between 70 and 77 degrees, according to Cornell University studies. If you can control the temperature wherever you choose to study, it could help you regain your focus.
- Natural Light – Artificial light has been shown in studies to disrupt our sleep cycles, meaning if your workspace is in artificial lighting (like fluorescents), you will probably be more tired than if you had been working in natural light. If you can, set up to do your homework near a window, but put your back to it if you think you’ll get distracted. If you think you can be disciplined about it (and it’s warm enough!), work outside.
- Noise – If you’re someone who needs noise to work, plug in those headphones and listen to some natural sounds or music without words. You could also listen to music you’ve heard before and know well, but only if you can resist the urge to sing along. If music doesn’t help you focus, get a pair of noise-cancelling headphones.
- Eye Strain – I haven’t tried this one myself, but I’ve heard that if you change the color background of your Word document to a light green, it makes it so much easier to look at for prolonged periods. You could also darken your screen and make a point to look away every half hour to breathe and let your mind and eyes rest.
- Focus Apps – For your phone, you can use Focus Lock, which is free, to block out certain notifications and apps for a certain amount of time so you’ll be distraction-free. Pomodoro is another one that sets a 25 minute timer for you where you focus, and after that you get a 3-5 minute break before another 25 minute focus session starts.
- Find Your Place – Maybe you’re roommate plays loud music all day and you can’t focus. Maybe you can’t have any people around in order to work. Finding what works for you is most important, so check out different spots on campus. Find an abandoned classroom, go to the writing center or a study room in the library. Finding your place can significantly help you focus.
When it comes to focus, it’s all about you. Find what works in creating a workspace, and stick with it. And good luck with your finals!