Step 21 to GTD Mastery is: I have a mobile office space set up, if needed.
As a student, it is definitely needed. Utilizing the time inbetween classes, events, and extracurriculars is crucial. This alone can make or break your academic success. This semester I was fortunate enough to schedule my classes with no gaps. I like hard transitions during my day (e.g. classes to studying to recreation). However, this is a personal preference as many students simply can’t sit in lectures for hours upon hours. In addition, your schedule may simply force large gaps upon you.
Like any other workspace, your mobile office has two requirements: a productive environment and supplies. Since we have already discussed the school supplies you need, this post will focus on choosing an effective study space.
The Golden Rule
When buying real estate, it comes down to location, location, location (says Donald Trump anyways). When choosing a study space, it comes down to isolation, isolation, isolation. This, above all other factors, is the key component for student productivity. The only faces you should see are those in your textbook (not your roommates, not that cute girl/guy, not your favourite celebrity’s poster). The only noise you should hear is what you want to hear (your thoughts, your writing, your keyboard, your music).
The first location that should come to mind is a library. However, not all libraries satisfy the need for isolation. In my high school, we had a tiny library, roughly the size of two classrooms. There was a set of cubicles in one corner for “quiet study,” but this was rendered useless by the flow of students twenty feet away, without any effective sound barriers. Fortunately, there was a public library accessible in a two-minute walk. There was also a book store in the nearby mall which had a Starbucks. The customer base was non-students and quiet during my study hours. I would sit at a table facing the wall. My final study spot was the upstairs floor of the pizza store. It was only busy during my lunch hour. During my study hours it was a ghost town.
In university, my library has designated “quiet study” floors. In addition, you are allowed to book breakout rooms, complete with stone walls and a door. Perfect silence. Another option is lesser-used buildings on campus.
While isolation is the key, it isn’t enough. Study spaces should have good lighting. This reduces eye strain and keeps the body from unconsciously moving to a sleep mentality. The study space should be large enough to comfortably layout your study materials. My final requirement is that I’m able to eat at my study space. Being able to refuel your energy is important. If you’re at a library, pick a spot where a librarian can’t see you.
Depending on the individual, it may be necessary to have more than one study space. Using the same study space daily can grow tiresome and actually decrease productivity as you start dreading the “walk to work.” Always be looking for new study spaces because, come crunch time, there may not be a seat for you at the library.