We’re about to give you the greatest excuses for all that procrastination you’ve been and will go through. Here’s our theory, it’s not your fault! Our thoughts and thus our choices are shaped by our environment; our architecture. Don’t believe us? Then read Nudge by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein. If there’s fruit on offer instead of cake, we choose the healthy option. If you put a target in the centre of a urinal, you get less spillage. And if you get the architecture wrong, your productivity suffers. Here are our
1. Your Bed:
Studying in a room where your bed is nearby is a recipe for disaster. Or rather, a recipe for falling asleep. You associate your bed with rest and relaxing. Having that thought right by your desk will only lead your mind astray.
Working near a TV may seem such a great idea on the surface. You may think it will keep you stimulated and working for longer. That won’t happen. You’ll just abandon work and end up watching another episode of Breaking Bad or the live football.
3. The Internet:
The Internet is much too abundant with distractions like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. ‘It’s a research tool’ you may say. Yes, it is. But it also can be the source of many funny cat videos, memes and embarrassing photos of your friends. Avoid it if you can.
4. Rowdy People:
Don’t work near your friends. They’ll just start talking to you/making funny faces/poking you profusely. Unless your friend is super keen and has a cataclysmic fury which prevents you from disturbing them, keep your studying an individual affair.
Okay we’re being a bit hasty here. Some sugar is good. You need lots of fruit and carbs to power your day. But don’t binge on sugary snacks and drinks. They’ll simply make you hyper (and thus unable to work) before crashing (and thus unable to work). You get the picture.
6. The Great Outdoors:
Two issues with this. Firstly, if you’re reading this in the UK, we so rarely have the weather for an outdoor retreat whilst studying. So we advise being less idealistic. Secondly, working outside always gets messy. Be it papers being blown away, an uneven work surface or simply the thought of lying in the mid-day sun, desks indoors were invented for a reason.
Your body needs fuel. See point 8. Not eating properly will also mean you snack badly. Eat well and regularly – mealtimes will also act as targets in the day to aim towards.
We said our thoughts are a product of our architecture. Yet our thoughts are also a product of our rationality (without getting into a philosophical debate). Basically, the part of our brain that acknowledges our future selves and includes them in our thinking doesn’t work as well when we’re tired. So sleep.
A cluttered workspace means a cluttered mind. Start your day by tidying your workspace and/or room. In the process, you’ll probably start structuring your thoughts and how you’ll attack the day.
10. Human Nature:
Be it your recent infatuation, thoughts of lunch or simply imagining that big sports game tomorrow, our own brains are our own worst enemies. We can’t combat our own desires. Don’t be too harsh on yourself. The best advice is simply to put mechanisms in place like those above to make sure your architecture inclines you to be productive rather than lethargic.