By Amanda Patrizzi
Public libraries, book stores, Starbucks… there are only so many places to get studying done in St. Petersburg. Whether it’s due to hours not open long enough, too much noise in the area, or even just too many distractions; it is too hard to focus and get work done.
Being an SPC student means having to commute back and forth to school. There are no dorm rooms where people get together with other students just to sit down and study, and at-home living environments can make it hard to focus on studies. There are different factors that can affect your study habits without you even knowing, such as lighting, color, decorations, and much more.
This is simply a Do It Yourself Guide to making your bedroom more study friendly.
Lighting: The lighting of your bedroom can very much affect your attentiveness when you study. Dim or low light makes it hard to see words, which means that you are not always picking up everything that you think you are. Also, dim lighting is psychologically depressing.
Lindsay Dorio, a communications student at SPC, says that she rarely studies in her room because she studies at night and her room’s lighting is “too dim and relaxing… it puts me to sleep.”
Also, bright and fluorescent lights trigger you to be distracted. Dr. Ellen Mannel Grangaard, who did a study of the effects of color and light on selected elementary students, found that “fluorescent lights contributed to off task behavior, such as daydreaming, playing with objects instead of listening, and talking to others during a lesson.”
Thus, when designing your room you want to find the happy medium. Something with natural lighting that isn’t too dim and depressing, but also not too bright and distracting. If it’s daytime, try an open window with the sun beaming in… that’s about as natural as it comes. At night, try a clip-on desk lamp that has a flexible neck so that you can adjust how much light you get. If you can find one with different lighting levels that would work even better.
Color: Color is an important factor in the physical learning environment and is a major element in interior design that impacts student achievement. Different colors work better in different environments. For example, kindergarten classes use bright colors such as yellow and orange to excite the children.
Therefore colors that are good for your bedroom could be turquoise, magenta, light gold, light green, beige, and burgundy. These colors are not extremely bright to distract you, but also not dull and boring to put you to sleep.
When Jennifer, an early college student, was asked if she thinks color affects her studying she said “yes, my room use to be purple and after we painted it teal it became much more relaxing.”
Colors to stay clear of are yellow and red. Yellow is bright and excites the brain making you hyper, while red triggers hunger. Dunn and Dunn research says that most fast food signs such as McDonalds, KFC, and Pizza Hut logos are red to make you hungry and get you to come eat.
Now that you have the room color and lighting to get you in the correct frame of mind, you need to have a place to actually do your work.
Workspace: Jennifer and Lindsay both did not have a functional desk in their rooms. They were discussing how when they try to do homework in bed they always fall asleep.
“You sleep in your bed, so when you try to study you’ll get tired because that’s where you sleep,” says Jennifer.
The desk size you need depends on what you are studying and what you need the desk for. If you are a drawing student you will need a wider desk. If you have a computer or laptop you will need something sturdy with an outlet nearby.
Ikea often has a sale on a basic desk. An example is a 27 x 19 x 28 inch desk with no drawers or storage for a little under $20. Also, thrift stores often have recycled furniture that just needs a little tender love and care to get it back to tip top shape. But, just in case you’re still not sure. Here is a fun idea:
DIY Desk: You will need milk crates and an interior flat door. (You can replace the door with new ideas such as plywood although plywood is more expensive) Keep in mind this is a large desk.
Stack up milk crates to the desired height you want for your desk (approx. two or three crates high). You will want four pillars which will act as the legs for the desk. Position the openings of the milk crates facing outward so that they can be used for storage later. I suggest black milk crates only because they are common and go with anything.
Zip tie your milk crates together on the three sides that don’t face the eye. Do not worry if the zipties are viewable because you could always paint them black to blend in.
If you are ok with the texture and color of the door you could leave it as is. If not, you can sand, prime, paint, and design to your liking. Once dry, place the door on top of your milk crates.
The easiest way that I can think of, although this is of course not the only way to secure the desk top is with a drill and zip ties.
Start with just one corner and leg. Drill two holes about an inch or two apart somewhere in the middle of that crate. In between your two holes I suggest making an indent or groove for the zip tie to lie into so that the zip tie is not sticking out on top of the desk.
Repeat the hole-and-groove process for each corner. Then feed the zip through the crate grate and the holes on the desk, keeping the clip part of the ziptie on the bottom of the desk top.
This desk will have plenty of room for a computer, tower, and keyboard. Also it is easy to move and has built-in storage.
Now that you have a desk with some storage it is time to get organized. One of the most difficult things about study rooms is storage and organization.
Organization: The crates you used for your desk legs are great for school books and binders. Binders are difficult to keep standing upright so the crates work exceptionally well for those.
Jennifer mentioned, “I have a desk but it’s always cluttered so I usually do homework on my bed.” Little did she know that there are so many at home fixes to storage problems. Here are a few:
An easy pen-and pencil-storage solution is a small shoe box with either empty toilet paper rolls or paper towels rolls cut in half. This is more for the art student who have many pens, pencils, paintbrushes and etc.
Also, for small items like paperclips, staples, USB drives, rubber bands, and etc. try empty Altoid or mint containers. They can be labeled or colored and painted to tell the difference.
Just like you don’t take notes for every class in one notebook, you don’t want your paperwork for every class in one bin.
Try cutting cereal boxes open to use as a magazine folder or file. There are two great styles to use… one for hanging and one for sitting on the desk top.
Inspiration: If you are going to school to be a nurse then hang up pictures of happy nurses and patients. Have quotes hung up on your wall about studying and succeeding. Hang pictures of people who inspire you, such as Einstein or a particular doctor. If you are religious, find quotes, Surahs, Passages or whatever you believe in about perseverance or strength that inspire you to keep going.
Last but not least… hang a sign on your door that says: