Design your own study environment

Reader and business school student Brendan Baker is in the middle of finals and has been trying to create an environment that’s likely to bring him good grades. No doubt, Brendan’s perfect learning environment is different from yours or anyone else’s, but for Brendan it means

1) Color-coded spreadsheets that give him satisfaction when he completes tasks.
2) Healthy snacks within arms reach.
3) Rotating study locations.
4) Looping a nine song soundtrack in the background.
5) Putting his facebook group in the second spot on his browser toolbar.

The last two are a bit puzzling. Care to explain Brendan?


2 Responses to “Design your own study environment”

  1. Brendan Says:

    Hah! Thanks, sure I can explain.

    The nine song track just happens to be music I study well to. Many people have this. It falls into the background, so I don’t even hear it anymore. But obviously it has some subconscious effect: I was in a store yesterday when one of the songs came on, I thought immediately of studying. Is that a nudge or a Pavolvian response? Both? I don’t know, but it works!

    The Facebook group? Nothing to do with studying, but actually not neglecting something I must do regularly outside of school. In this case, grow the facebook and twitter communities around The First Drop ( ahead of an upcoming site launch. I was neglecting this, but I have 5-6 Firefox browser link buttons I click regularly every 40 minutes or so for a break, without thinking. I made that one of them, meaning the health of the community has become prominent, and top of mind, so I actually do something about it.

    I’m sure many others have good self-nudges for productivity. Removing distractions, placing hints, assigning default scenarios that work. I’d love to hear what others use.


  2. Eric Says:

    I am currently reading Nudge. I just finished Chapter 6 which mentions this website, hence here I am. Kudos on the well-placed site promotion.

    I can definitely relate to frequent looping of background music – mainly Morcheeba or Klaus Badelt (who doesn’t love Pirates of the Caribbean?). Without thinking about it, certain points in each song (for me the faster, louder portions) make my mind work twice as hard. Never fails. I can accomplish more in a 40 second section of a given song than in 5 minutes of silence.

    Oddly, I also keep facebook as my second tab (the first being gmail). These, in my opinion, are unavoidable distractions so I might as well establish some self-control, albeit minimal. 40 minutes sounds about right. Quick glance at the email, check some status updates, and maybe some world news headlines.

    Colored tabs and spreadsheets are also a must.

    I also take the DC metro to/from work and make that a study environment. The commute is so mundane and routine as it is so it helps to pop in the ipod earphones and start reading away. Little chunks here and there add up, and when you are working and take some courses it makes a huge difference.

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