Finding a place to study
I don’t have a space to study.
For a long time, that statement described kind of my whole school life. I never understood why I should need a desk when I can just do my homework at the kitchen table, on the sofa or in bed. Desks need space and my room wasn’t quite the definition of big, so a desk - to me - was just a waste of space.
I never really had any issues with that until my final years of school, probably because I never had to do much for school anyways. I’m one of those people everyone hates - those people who get good grades by being organised. But the final years are different.
No matter how good you’re doing in school, you’ll always hit that one point where you have to sit down and get things done, prepare for exams, tests and your finals. That one point where you actually need a place to study.
In my case, that now actually is a desk, but I know not everyone has that one place where they can sit down and focus on the work they need to get done. However, a desk doesn’t have to be that one and only solution for your studying area. There are a lot of alternatives to try out.
Everyone studies differently and everyone has their own needs when it comes to a place to focus. I personally found for myself that I like the concept of a desk - I always have all of the things I need, I’m never looking for pens, pencils or paper, I have my computer for doing research, I can easily print things (I’m a huge fan of highlighting and taking notes in the margin of a text) and, most importantly, I have one place to go when I want to study.
To me, consistency is key. It never really worked for me to have thousands of places for studying, especially because those were the places I used to do other things in as well. Having that one place to go to actually helps to focus more on what you actually want to do instead of being distracted by what else you could do in that place.
But what to do if you don’t have a desk? The easiest solution is to use your school’s studying areas, if it has any. In our school, we have computer rooms and a library we can go into to sit down and study or do homework. They’re free of distractions, people aren’t very loud in there and you can’t do much else than what you came for since we’re not allowed to use our phones and the computers only display certain pages that our school thinks are helpful for researching.
However, when exams come up, you might want to study on weekends as well, which means you can’t go into your school to study there. I found coffee shops to be a great alternative, or just any park with picnic tables. Just make sure you bring all the things you need for your studies (you can read about my study essentials I need for studying here).
What’s great about studying in public places is that you can invite your friends to join you. Discussing issues in groups can be very helpful. Others can explain to you what you don’t understand, and by explaining things to others you repeat and reproduce what you learned - which, to a certain percentage, is what you have to do in that exam anyways.
However, studying doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to go outside. There are plenty of places around your home where you can study.
You’re probably thinking of your bed right now. It’s comfy, you have a lot of room to put your things and it’s most likely not full of things you have to put away before you can start studying or doing your homework. The downside of studying on your bed is that it can lead to you having issues with sleeping. Spending a lot of time studying in bed tricks your brain into thinking that this is the place to focus on learning and reproducing knowledge, which makes it harder to fall asleep. That effect won’t be noticeable right away, and studying in your bed only once won’t make much of a difference, however, you shouldn’t make it into a habit. Your bed should only be used for sleeping.
The place I studied in before having a desk was the sofa. I never had a problem with doing my homework or studying while the TV was on or while my parents were talking, the only issue was not having a table, which wasn’t exactly great for geometry class homework or drawing diagrams or figures in general. Lap desks do exist - I just didn’t know about them back then. Looking back, one of those would probably have been a great addition for my life. Most of them have an even surface and a cushion on the back for you to put onto your legs. Some come with a clipboard or a place to put your pens - they’re basically just a portable mini desk you can take with you, and they don’t need much space either. To me, they seem to be the best alternative to a real desk, even though I never had one.
Let’s not forget about the kitchen or dining table. Our kitchen table was basically my desk throughout my entire time in primary school, until I accidentally put my things onto it while my mum was cleaning it. Soggy binders, exercise books and text books aren’t very helpful for studying, I promise. Yes, it is an alternative, but it never really worked out for me.
Last but not least, let’s focus on the option of actually getting a desk. The easiest would be to just find a place to put it and then buy one that fits into the corner of your choice. That doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be in your bedroom. However, it should be in a place where you get a lot of light - either from a window or from a lamp - and it’s also not a bad idea to put it somewhere where you can access the internet if you need to do research (as in being able to connect to LAN or WIFI on either your phone or your laptop there).
If there’s no place for a desk, you could try a smaller alternative. All a desk - or a table - really needs are legs and an even surface. You could try getting something that unfolds from your wall and only uses up space when you actually use it. If you’re looking for inspiration, I’d advise googling “room saving desk” and see what images come up.
This option is a little more on the pricy side, but, desks like that can be build from a wooden surface, some hinges and something for its legs. If you’re a crafty person, I’m sure you can come up with a diy solution which can be much cheaper than a store-bought desk for small spaces.
In the end, the most important thing is to have a certain place you can always go to for studying and doing your homework. Your brain will associate that place with studying after a while, making it easier for you to stay focused. Keeping distractions minimal can also be a great help.
Where and how do you like study? Let me know in the comments down below!