Law students spend a lot of time studying. And by “a lot,” I mean a good portion of each day. Regardless of whether you are a first-year student, in your final year of study, or somewhere in between, the quantity and quality of your study time is directly related to your academic success. I have previously explained how creating a good study schedule is important in law school. Today, I want to talk about location—in other words, your study environment. Choosing the right study location for you can be a key element of maximizing the time that you spend studying. You can have the best intentions, but the wrong environment can derail your entire study plan. (As I’ve noted before, the right study environment is also important for those people studying for the bar exam!)
Here are some tips for choosing the right study environment:
Avoid distractions: What things distract you when you are studying? If you are constantly tempted to turn on the TV, then studying in your living room may not be for you. Do you visit with friends rather than get work done when you study at the law school library? You may need to study somewhere other than at the law school. Some students prefer the background noise of a coffee shop, while others find themselves listening to nearby conversations. Be realistic in your assessment of what distracts you—choose a study environment that avoids those distractions.
Consider study breaks: What do you like to do when you take breaks from studying? If you want to be able to take a short walk, then setting up your study station at the local coffee shop may not make sense—you won’t want to have to pack up your stuff every time you take a break. On the other hand, if your idea of a break is checking your email or playing computer games, then a more public location may not be an issue. Just make sure that your study location is conducive to taking study breaks.
Consider your space requirements: Some students prefer to study at a large desk or table, where they can spread out their class materials. Others prefer to sit on a comfortable couch, overstuffed chair, or even the floor. Think about what type of space makes you feel most comfortable when you are studying—you’re going to spend a lot of time there.
Assess, and reassess: Do you prefer routine, or do you need to change things up periodically? For some students, maintaining the same routine every day—studying at the same place at the same time—works best. Other students prefer a little variety in their study environment. You may also find that what works for you at one point in the semester may not be as effective as you get closer to final exams. Periodically reassess your study environment and make sure it still works best for you.
The perfect study environment is a personal thing—experiment and find out what works best for you!