Let’s face it: no matter how beautifully you equip your desk in your room, at some point you are going to get tired of it. Like, really tired of it. I mean realistically if you think about it, you study almost every day for a minimum of two hours. Multiply that by 8 months, and you get 488 hours. And that’s not including studying for exams or laboring over essays. No wonder you get tired of the scenery! I’ve found that changing up my study space, depending on the type of work I’m planning on doing, and on how intensely I expect to be working keeps each piece of work feeling fresh. Every university has at least two or three libraries, plus countless coffee shops leaving you with a myriad of places to try to not procrastinate in!
1. Low Intensity Work: Weekly readings, translations, problem sets etc.
Although most people tend to keep the hard core studying for the library, I’m the opposite. I find that its much easier to get through mounds of mundane readings while in the library – somehow the atmosphere of everyone else furiously staring at their books leaves me with a sense of accomplishment about the work I’ve completed. The low intensity work is usually what gets me – especially since there’s no direct penalty for not doing your readings or preparing for the next class. Being at a library leaves me with no other choice but to at least get some studying done! I like choosing a comfortable library to do this kind of work in – after all, its what you’re going to spend the bulk of your time studying! The library I choose on the U of T campus has armchairs, fireplaces and a homey feel to it.
2. Medium Intensity Work: Small essays, assignments to be handed in etc.
For smaller essays and assignments I tend to favour more modern and airy places – whether it be libraries or quiet study spaces. Often, these essays need some kind of inspiration and when in doubt, I try to explore different coffee shops! Toronto has a dazzling array of cute and quaint cafes, and often the right latte is the perfect recipe for starting a tricky paper! Trust me, breaking out of the Starbucks mold can be intensely refreshing at times.
3. High Intensity Work: Exams, midterm, long essays etc.
In preparation for exams or tests, I usually compile my notes and/or do my readings for the first time in a big scary library. On the U of T campus, its made out of hunks of concrete, open 24 hours, and contains rows upon rows of sleep deprived students. A little bit of fear is always healthy when studying for tests! For essays, I usually try to formulate a thesis in a more sociable places (frequented for medium intensity work!), but end up moving to the same scary library to complete the bulk of it. Bigger assignments should feel different – they’re probably worth a lot more anyways! I usually don’t end up staying and completing all of my studying/essay writing in the concrete jail. At some time in the night, I reach a saturation point and pack up and head home. I actually do most of my most intense studying and essay writing in my room, either on my bed or desk. In your own room there are less things to distract you with (unless you’re in danger of falling asleep…), and I have some of my most productive sessions in there! Try out new places around campus to study in – you’ll feel excited every time you start working someplace new!