One major cause of study problems is trying to study in the wrong environment. But before you assume your study space is all wrong, there a few points to consider about your study habits and preferences.
“Do sounds distract me?” If they do, you’re not alone. Many students have trouble focusing if they are easily distracted by talking, street noise, chatter, music, etc. Sometimes a quiet environment is needed, and maybe even a good pair of noise-canceling headphones.
“Does silence make me anxious?” Meanwhile, other students truly need sound to help them focus. Music that’s easy to listen to, small desktop fans, white-noise machines can all help. Spotify even has a ton of “study music playlists” to choose from.
“Do I get visually distracted?” For some students, it’s easy to block out the outside world and focus on the work at hand. Others find that phones, TV, people-watching, even a window with a nice view will be too much of a distraction. If this sounds like you, consider working in an environment that minimizes visual distractions, maybe even putting your phone in another room while you’re working.
“Am I too much of a talker?” Talking with others while working generally doesn’t help you focus. Unless you’re in a study group or working with a tutor, talking is probably not helping you study.
“Is my environment too comfortable? Too uncomfortable?” It might seem finicky, but if your chair is uncomfortable, is your table is too low, if the room is too cold or hot, you might not be able to focus. At the same time, if you’re too comfortable–snuggled up in bed with the covers pulled up around you–your mind might think it’s nap-time. Try and find a space that is a good balance, that keeps you alert and comfortable enough.
“Does my environment inspire me intellectually?” Believe it or not, surrounding yourself with books or other students working can actually help improve your attitude. Studying in a library might be something to try. If that’s too distracting, considering putting up posters or pennants from your goal colleges near your desk as a reminder of what all this studying is for.
Contemplating your studying issues is an important step towards helping you achieve your long-term goals. Many study problems are workable. Patience and persistence will go a long way.