They say home is where the heart is. While this is mostly true, it’s also true that home is where noise, distractions, and lack of productivity are. And yet, at some point or another, you have to bring your school work home. So how do you get quality studying done in a place that can be so incompatible with studying?

The keywords for this article are ‘eliminate’ and ‘minimize’. By consciously looking for ways to minimize or eliminate things that will interfere with your studies, you can carve out a quiet place where you can dig into those homework assignments and get things done. Here are five things to look for as you create your at-home study space:

college study tips for studying at home1. Solitude is paramount.

Where there are people–children, roommates, significant others–there are bound to be distractions. Of course, it’s not their fault–they’re just happy to see you. But they could inadvertently destroy your study session for that big exam.

Therefore, the first step in creating your study space has to be finding the place in your home with the least amount of traffic. One student-mom I knew would literally lock herself in the bathroom with her textbooks and turn on the faucet full-blast to get some peace and quiet. It may be a closet, a tool shed, or a back porch. Do what you have to do to find that space.

Often, this kind of solitude might only be available at certain times of the day. We’ll discuss the importance of finding the right time below.

2. Minimize noise.

Few things break your concentration like jarring noises. If your home is smaller and you live with especially active people (i.e. kids or excitable roommates), silence may be near-impossible to find. Maybe you have a neighbor who likes to share her music with the rest of the block. Regardless of your circumstances, electronics provide some cheap solutions.

A pair of earphones, for instance, and a nice, study-friendly playlist can block out any distracting noises and put you in a nice study groove. If you’re willing to pay more, noise-cancelling headphones can block out all noise altogether, bringing you the purest silence possible. Try out these options and see which one works best for you. By minimizing the amount of noise, you will make it much easier for your brain to concentrate on the task at hand.

3. Eliminate distractions.

As useful as they are, phones and computers can be your worst enemy come study time. Got a new mobile game that you just can’t put down? Do not bring the phone into your study space. Have you been wanting to catch up on the last season of Gray’s Anatomy? The drama will have to wait. This also goes for Facebook, video games, phone calls, and movies. Protect your study space at all costs and keep the distractions out.

4. Centralize your learning tools.

Before you sit down to study, make sure you have everything you need on hand to take care of business. This probably includes a pen/pencil, textbooks, notes, paper, a computer, and any other necessary materials. Why is this so important? Because one trip to the noisy outside world breaks the magic spell of your study space. All the distractions you’ve kept at bay come at you once you open that door. It becomes that much harder to return back to your study space and get back into the groove. So don’t give distraction a chance: make sure you have everything you need before you start.

5. Set a time.

Yes, time matters when you’re looking for an adequate study space. Times when people are sleeping or out of the house are excellent for studying. Many online students attend the majority of their lectures and knock out their homework assignments after children have gone to sleep or while roommates are at work.

But it’s not enough to pick a quiet time of the day. You must set that time aside in your brain, reserve it for the sole purpose of learning. You have to be so regular that study time in your study space becomes expected, and even prepared for, by your brain. In this way, your brain will perform at its peak effectiveness during those times, because it is ready for it.

You’ll also notice that, as you stick with a regular study schedule, the people in your life will learn to avoid you during those times, minimizing the need to tell them to go away.

I’m sure there are some out there for whom studying at home, even after all these fantastic tips, just isn’t viable. For these people, I recommend finding a similar space somewhere you can find these same characteristics. Public libraries, your car, and parks can be great stand-ins for your at-home study space.

So what do you do to make your at-home study time effective? What are your most difficult distractions? Share your secrets with us in the comments below!

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