10 Ways Your Study Environment Affects Productivity

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It can seem challenging to pick the right study environment. You may not be aware of all the factors that make or break your place for study. Maybe you’re trying to decide whether to study in library or at home. Or, you want help making a study room for yourself. In any case, this post will show you all the aspects of creating your best study environment, setting up a productive study atmosphere, and what to avoid while studying. 

#1: Noise

The ambient noise level of a study environment has a huge impact on work and studying. Studies show that some people show increased cortisol levels with significant background noise. Excess cortisol, the stress hormone, negatively impacts learning, memory, and decision making. However, between 50 and 70 db of background noise can boost creativity. Above 85 db, creativity goes down. A moderate level of noise distracts people just enough that their thoughts become more abstract. This promotes creative thinking.

Choose a coffee shop for your environment of study if you want this creative, but slightly distracting study atmosphere. To create a creativity-inspiring white noise effect at home, you can use a White Noise Machine. However, if you live at a place with constant noise, near heavy traffic or construction work, don’t stay there. Your stress may go up and your hearing could be damaged. 

Study Environment noise
Hopefully not this loud. Source: Grace’s Graphics

#2: Music

Music’s impact on a study environment may vary depending on the person. One study testing software engineers showed that music improved quality-of-work and state positive affect. However, a different study demonstrated that serial recall was worse with music involved compared to steady-state speech.

Some students get into a better mood with music playing, which can make studying more efficient. A study on music found that dopamine was released when people listened to music they enjoyed. Dopamine impacts productivity, making you more motivated to do something to feel the reward. You can use music as a rewarding tool for creating a good study environment this way. 

Different types of music have different effects. Music with lyrics can distract you while you do verbal tasks like reading, studying and writing. Try listening to just instrumental music and see how that affects your studying environment. Make sure you use good headphones that cancel out ambient noise. 

#3: Lighting

Lighting can make all the difference when picking the best study environment or creating a good study environment at home. Use blue LEDs to suppress melatonin, the chemical that controls your sleep. You will raise productivity during the day this way. You can use a therapeutic lightbox to blast yourself with blue light to help wake up and regulate your mood. Natural lighting from windows also has a lot of blue light content. 


Study environment lighting
This is a well-lit room.

However, you want to limit blue light at nighttime so you can get sleep. Sleep loss can lead to depression, weight gain and anxiety, among other effects. At nighttime, you can use apps like Night Shift for iOS and F.lux for android and PC. These will tint your screens reddish to limit blue light. You can even integrate F.lux with Philips Hue smart light bulbs for creating a good study environment at home. At night, your house will automatically dim and redden for sleep.


#4: Temperature

The temperature of your study environment has more of an impact than you might think. This study found that as temperature increased to 70 degrees Fahrenheit, work performance increased. Above 75 degrees F, work performance decreased. Another study asked employees about their work environment temperature. Employees said it was difficult to concentrate when too hot or too chilly. 

I’ve found that I can layer up as much as I want, but if it’s too cold, my fingers get frozen and I can’t type. I also get more sleepy in warmer study environments, so the temperature has to be somewhere in the middle.

Study Environment temperature
Do you ever feel like this? Source: shareitsfunny.com


#5: Associations

We psychologically associate places with their activities. Because of this, sleep therapists recommend saving your room for sleeping. If you watch TV, eat, or browse the internet in your room, you will find it harder to get sleep.

You can pick one place for your study environment and stick to it. A studying library makes sense because unlike other candidates for a studying environment, you don’t go to a library to socialize or drink coffee. If you still can’t decide whether to study in library or at home, try reserving one area of your home as your study environment. You will associate that place with studying and leave the rest of your house untouched by studying.



#6: Smells

Creating a good study environment can involve smells, too. Scents have the power to make us more friendly, spark memories, and also improve productivity. This is due to the fact that olfactory bulbs are directly connected to the brain’s learning and emotion centers. 

Beverley Hawkins, who owns West Coast Institute of Aromatherapy, recommends trying several scents.

  • Lemon calms and concentrates
  • Lavender can treat depression and calm nerves
  • Rosemary fights mental fatigue and headaches

You can get essential oils and put dabs on cotton or fabric for portable scents. Then, you can take your favorite smells with you  to whatever environment of study you choose. 

#7: Nature

A connection to nature in your study environment can make a difference in your productivity. Classrooms with windows helped students perform better in one study. This study found that a connection to green space for even 20 minutes significantly reduced stress.

You may find that you like studying out in a park better than studying indoors. Studying outside also offers fresh smells and natural lighting. To incorporate nature into your home, you can grow succulents. These plants are beautiful and easy to take care of.

Study Environment Nature
Get hyped like this frog for nature! Source: Instaprints

#8: Technological Distractions

Technology and TV can make the difference between the best study environment and a place where you get nothing done. TVs, especially those that aren’t muted, are just too distracting. A study referenced here showed that people shown visual soap operas took more time to complete memorization assignments compared to people exposed to audio only or no stimulus. TV can seem more interesting than what you’re studying and keep you glancing away.

Technology is another bad study habit. This study showed that checking Facebook at least once during a fifteen minute study session caused students to be less productive. Try leaving your phone at home while you study if you find yourself checking it often.

Study environment distractions
Pretty accurate, no? Source: Thefilam.net

#9: Organization

A cluttered study environment may detract from your productivity by sucking away your attention. Princeton researchers found that the more objects there are around you, the less focused you become. Every object around you competes for your attention. Even digitally, a messy desktop and overflowing email inbox can be distracting. This book helped me to get organized-give it a read and see what you think.

On the other hand, messiness has been linked to creativity. Remember how distraction leads to abstract thoughts, ergo creativity? The same process may be at play visually. You could choose more messy study spaces, like busy coffee shops with plates and cups haphazardly arranged, for more creative projects. Meanwhile, you can study at the library for tasks requiring intense concentration.

#10: Social Aspect

Some people prefer to study alone, so they aren’t distracted by the presence of friends or attractive strangers. Studying solo provides another advantage because you can study exactly what you need to improve in most. Also, no one will object to your music if you play it to yourself using headphones or speakers at home.

However, study groups have their own advantages. Study groups promote discussion about the topic and bring up new perspectives you may not have thought of. In study groups, great study habits like self-monitoring and asking “Why?” may come up more often than if you study alone. Also, studying socially provides accountability and further motivation to study. 

Study Environment social
Awwww yeah. Source: MemeGenerator.net


Now you know how to pick the best study environment. Did you like the list? I like to write these articles at home in a compact room packed with stuff with music and green tea going. It’s the right combination of creativity and focus for me. If you’re preparing for the SAT, you can read our Ultimate SAT Prep Guide. Happy studying!

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1 Comment
  1. Topher says

    Th’tas going to make things a lot easier from here on out.

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