Creating a good study environment that promotes focus
May Peace , Mercy , and Blessings of Allah descend upon you! , Assalamu Alikum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuh!
This is my first post on this blog , which I hope will save the reader time , effort and promote focus , just like the title suggests.
Conditions for that environment
Focus and concentration are the elements which act as the basis of gaining of knowledge , in other words , it helps studying. To be able to study , the scholar must be in certain conditions , and some of these conditions reside in :
- A distraction-free environment
- A clear mind.
- A physically relaxed body and a mentally relaxed mind.
- Focus , and the physical relation of your desk to it.
- And the most important condition , Time.
These conditions mentioned above impact the overall study rate in a positive way , but it does have some negative effects , such as being bored or something , that’s why it is often required to have a break every thirty minutes , or every hour in an ordered scale. I’ll start explaining each of the mentioned conditions solely , to be able to acquire information as much as possible from the studying hours.
In order to create a distraction-free environment , you have to consider the following points , since they do affect “how much information” you get :
- Time of the day : this is one , as mentioned above is considered as one of the most important factors which affect how you study , an ideal time of the day would be at the early morning , when the Sun has not risen yet , it allows you to have a comfortable , relaxed waking up ( like in farms and the country-side ) and the sun shining provides an ideal light that , in my opinion , seem to help thinking somehow. Unlike the current living style which has controlled the world , waking up late when the Sun already shone and life has started , and sleeping late when everything has gone into a hibernate state a couple of hours ago , this living style doesn’t encourage studying , in fact , it does nothing but discouraging studying and other activities as well.
- Turn and keep off all possible distractions : The computer , the Internet , logout of Facebook , Twitter and the RSS on your media ( mobile , computer , iPod , iPad , you name it! ) , and if you are digitally studying , turn off communicative applications ( Skype , MSN , Twitter , Facebook , Myspace , Yahoo! and all the other communication tools ).
- Following a schedule : Following a schedule ( or a plan ) is a good step of organising since it can make your efforts efficient , if you are a disciplined person , however to achieve this point , consistence is required to keep off distractions off the schedule , and to stick to it as well ( Thanks to Mr.Ibrahim for clarifying this point for me ).
- Being alone : Sometimes being alone , in a closed room keeps away distraction-factors which disturb the studying mood , reducing the overall efficiency.
Clarity of mind ( and Motivation )
This is a very important condition , if it is not available , it will ruin the whole studying and its plan, and it is related to the time of studying as well , it is very well known that the time when the mind is at its clearest ( for a normal day ) is in the early morning , right after waking up.
However , for clarity of mind to be achieved at other times , some factors have to be taken into consideration – bah , this is getting boring , listing 😦 :
- Getting rid of tasks for time being : Tasks often employ a part of your brain ( you have to do so & so , you have a very long to-do list to tick ) , slowing down your studdying efficiency and de-motivating you . It is possible to get rid of tasks by either , delaying them if you are short on time , or finishing them , if you have enough time of course.
- Having a reason to study : Having a reason to study , like ambitions , an aim , someone’s expectations , etc. can motivate your studying , and totally turning the boredom 180 degrees , making studying fun , or useful.
- What ? Why? and Why?! Equation : Answer these questions about the thing you are studying , if there isn’t a reason or a motivator , just invent one by your answers and create interest.
- Interest : its a vital factor in my opinion , if you do not like what you are studying , or not in the mood for it , try looking at something else.
Ah , imagine that you are relaxed , on your sofa , nothing disturbing you , nothing distracting you and your mind is so clear , so clear that you are “getting bored” that is what I feel when I do that , but boredom should be killed , and that’s easy .. by studying , and remember that you are preparing to study. Relaxing does help you to focus a bit , but since we’ve talked about the “mental relaxation” in the last two points , it would be better if we moved to the physical part , and some of what we didn’t mention as well.
- Choosing a comfortable seat : a chair that is good for you , and your back , and your body would be awesome , and a comfortable one ( not too comfortable , we don’t want to be sleeping around here! ) will help you staying focused , since sometimes , pain or non-comforting feeling often works really good as a distraction , allowing a channel of thoughts to embrace your thinking “My neck and back are hurting , the whole vertebrae is causing a pain” , and of course … that is not advised , so get a comfortable good chair.
- Background sound : some people like to have a background noise around to be able to concentrate ,like anasheeds or sound of nature with low volume on my computer while studying , because I am one of the people who do no like having a “too quiet” environment like a library does.
- Some snack to snatch : I remember when I was studying , I grabbed a biscuit packet ,and a Juice Bottle , and took a cup and a biscuit after each 2 hours or something , with water every 30 minutes… That kept me physically in focus , choose a sugary snack ( sweet ) which is low on sugar , fruits like Guavas , Apples , Bananas would be ideal , and choose a drink like Hot Chocolate or Coffee ( In the morning , to avoid having sleeping troubles at night ) , a variety of herbs like Camomile , Mint , Tea , and many others.
Focus , its motivators , and physical applications that help it
Focus , it usually is the missing element when studying. Focus is what studying is based on , without focus , studying wouldn’t have existed ,and of course this world wouldn’t have modernised. But focus is so hard to acquire , I , myself , am one of the people who cannot directly focus , while my brother can , he is in another world when he is concentrating on something , this can be due to the nature or behaviour , however Focus can be forced to appear by many reasons , as mentioned above , Keeping distractions away , clearing the mind , and relaxing , but there are many others as well , which I will try to mention some of here.
- Light : While studying , light can play a very important role , whether it is the natural Sunlight or synthetic light ( lamps ) but both of them have rulings to be applied on , Synthetic lights , unlike sunlight can totally distract you and cause you a headache , if they are direct ( the bulb is bigger than the lamp’s shield for example , caused me much headaches ) , that’s why Synthetic lights must be indirect , that it hits what you are reading and not your eyes. While sunlight , if it is direct or indirect , its natural and it has always been there , from that distance that we , humans , got used to it , so it does have a positive effect.. it is another reason why noon is considered a perfect time for studying. For a solution for the the bulb problem , please scroll down.
- Clean desk : Clean the studying desk out to provide yourself an environment , arrange the pen and pencils in a nice way in a cup , hang the clock , put the calendar on the side , open the drawers , throw the iPod , MP3 , External HDD, the USB cables , the useless paper and everything , just get it away from your sight! , it is not clean from the inside , but will make you feel better , looking at the outer view.
- Index refreshing cards : write on Index cards your motivators , the WhatWhyNWhy Equation , and your aims and hang it , or put it in-front of you and look at it from time to time when you are lacking efficiency.
- Schedule : Schedule encourages focus , and organises the whole operation for you , just follow the schedule , like 04.30 wake up , 04.40 Wash your face , ( Ablution for Muslims and Fajr Prayer ) , 05.00 Breakfast , 05.30 Start studying till 07.00 Have a break 07.30 resume …. etc… till 20.00 hit the sack.
- Organising yourself and tidying your room could be essential if you have the feeling that you can’t focus because of the environment.
Time , the most important point
Time is the element which has been granted to everyone , use it wisely and don’t waste time , and if you are going to waste it anyway , waste it with a plan , fruitful planning how to waste your time , limiting the wasted time is very efficient when it comes to studying. Do not delay your studies. The Imaam Ahmed Ibn Hanbal ( A Muslim Scholar ) once said “With the inkwell to the grave” , that means that studying remains forever , just like work which never ends. We must be successful in our lives , in our activities , in-short , we have to be successful in everything.
I hope that this blog post have helped you , the reader , with a slim slice of the focus Pizza.
Out of topic – The bulb problem , and the temporary solution for it
Annoying , Irritating , Ache-making bulb problem , What is the solution for it? Photographers use a Flash Diffuser , this is a piece of glass which diffuses flash.
It gave me the idea of using Clearbag files to do the same job
, and on top of that , it worked also as shaders but not for a flash , for a bulb .
References and sources used :
Picture #1 : TravelPod , by Ariel_Europe
eHow – Creating good study environment by Heidi Braley – http://www.ehow.com/how_2283464_creating-good-study-environment.html
eHow – Avoid distractions while studying by Vanessa Glass – http://www.ehow.com/how_2301626_avoid-distractions-studying.html
Lifehacker – Build Your Workday Around Focus: Tips from the Trenches by Leo Babauta – http://lifehacker.com/5670193/how-to-build-your-workday-around-focus-tips-from-the-trenches
Al Imaam Ahmed Ibn Hanbal – http://www.daawatul-islam.com/Scholars/Al-imaam%20Ahmad%20Ibn%20Hanbal.htm
Picture #3 : By WareHouseExpress for Nikon Flash Diffuser
Picture #2 , #4 , #5 , By Sherif Borhamy Azmy
Thanks for Mr.Ibrahim for correcting some mistakes I made.