Designing a Study Space to Increase Productivity Reply

You’ve made a pact with yourself—this is the semester you’ll finally nail that 4.0. But it will take a lot more than just hitting the books to get there. In fact, our environment, quality of sleep, and mental state can play a huge part in our overall productivity. Our brains are wired to respond to external stimuli, so if you really want to succeed in your classes, it helps to pay attention to the design of your study area as well. Here are a few tips you can use to give your area a productivity makeover.

space1

 

Clean Up Your Room

Now that you’re out on your own, it can be easy to forget about picking up. And with five classes, a research project, and making time for socializing, you hardly have time for eating, let alone chores.

Unfortunately, you’re not doing yourself any favors if you’re not keeping your dorm room or apartment clean. Researchers at Princeton University found that cluttered spaces adversely affect productivity; too much visual stimuli makes it harder to focus on the task at hand. The external sensory elements compete for your attention at a subconscious level, so even if you can’t feel it, that essay is probably taking longer than it should. It’s like your roommate’s holding band practice right next to your laptop.

Just picking up regularly will help, of course. But you should also concentrate on clearing clutter from your desk, dresser, and bedside table surfaces, too. It’s all too easy to cover these spots with wallets, toiletries, books, and other items—but this stuff counts as clutter to your mind, too.

Change Your Lighting

Experts say that Americans don’t really have the best ideas when it comes to lighting. Specifically, we tend to flood our interiors—and especially our workspaces—with a little bit too much light. Very bright spaces can cause what’s known as “disability glare”—which actually makes it harder to see the textbook in front of you. While you probably don’t have much control on your dorm or apartment’s overhead lighting, you’ll generally find your concentration improved if you switch off the big fluorescent lights and rely instead on a variety of eye-level lamps.

Another thing to consider? The color of the light has a huge impact, too. Bulbs typically range from cooler colors—blues and whites—to warmer yellowish, orange, and reddish hues. While studies show that cooler lights tend to energize, if you sleep near your study area, you should be wary about installing these bulbs. Cool-colored light can affect your circadian rhythms, particularly if you do most of your studying in the late afternoon or evening. And if your internal clock gets off schedule, the quality of your sleep will plummet, making it much harder to concentrate.

space2

Transform Your Desk into the Perfect Workspace

First thing’s first: if you’re reading this from bed, don’t! Using your mattress for studying, surfing the web, or anything other than sleeping can really wreck your night’s rest. A study published in the Journal of Sleep Research found that participants who used cell phones and computers in bed got much less sleep than those who didn’t. That’s because your brain forms a subconscious association with this spot as a place for waking activities.

So, if you want to be more productive and get better rest, it’s a good idea to get to know your desk. To make working there more amenable, clear off everything except the items you regularly use, like a pen and a pad of paper. If you can, try to divide your workspace into two different “zones”—one for taking notes by hand, and one for using your laptop. And make sure you have a trashcan at the ready so that you can keep clutter in check once and for all. Your education is too precious to let a little disorganization stand in your way!


Erin Vaughan is a blogger, gardener and aspiring homeowner.  She currently resides in Austin, TX where she writes full time for Modernize, with the goal of empowering homeowners with the expert guidance and educational tools they need to take on big home projects with confidence.


All views and opinions of guest authors are theirs alone and are not representative of the views of Petersons.com or its parent company Nelnet.

Important Tips for the Recent College Grad Reply

The late nights cramming for finals is over; you’ve put your cap and gown away…yes, you’ve survived college and it’s time to enter the real world.  Now before you start picking out the Ferrari or the McMansion, the first thing you’ll need to do is find a job.  While you’ve likely taken some type of employment seminar, nothing in the real world is ever textbook.  Below are important tips that I believe every new graduate should follow.

Network, network, network!  Like most recent graduates, your network is likely more limited than those who’ve been in the workforce for several years.  One thing to remember, especially in a tight job market (and even in a great market) is that many times the old adage, “It’s not what you know, but who you know” does hold some truth.  Sure, you still need to be qualified, however it never helps to have someone on the inside.  So how does one network?

  • LinkedIn– not your traditional networking, however this is one social network you don’t want to dismiss!
  • Connect/converse without limits– don’t sell your network short by networking with only those who can help you achieve your goals. Be open, honest and genuine with everyone- it’s amazing how small the world is and karma has a way of coming back to find us.
  • Listen- don’t just listen for opportunities in the ‘now’, listen to what those around you say. What makes their job difficult?  Is that something you can fix?  If you’re able to connect these dots the opportunities afforded to you will be many.

Concentrate on that Resume!  A resume, by Webster’s own definition, is simple- it’s a personal summary.  So why not skip all the theatrics, slap together a few blurbs around your experience and start getting those applications out the door?  The reality is that for each position you apply for, there are hundreds, if not more, other people trying to get the coveted interview.  Now you don’t need to ship your resume off with glitter ink, watermarks and neon orange paper (unless the position calls for quirky or gaudy), however you do need to make sure that the content of your resume is organized in a manner that easy to digest.

  • Styles- make sure the overall style of your resume plays to your strengths. As a recent graduate you will want to focus on the skills and knowledge that you’ve just earned.  A narrative focusing on how those courses and any extracurricular activities relate to the position at hand may be the best way to go.
  • The little things– even the most perfect resume in the world is quickly derailed by spelling and grammar errors. Unless you’ve broke out the quill and ink vial, give the spellchecker a click and then make sure you give it a once over- if possible find another set of eyes to review.  Don’t be that guy…or gal who fails to heed this advice!
  • Customize- unless you’re applying for the same position at the same organization over and over again, you should have more than one resume. In fact, you should make sure that each resume is suited and tailored for each position which you apply.
  • Keywords- make sure your resume is filled with keywords, this will ensure your resume will make it through the applicant tracking system. Often, keywords are simply job titles, skills, certifications and so on. I would suggest making a list of your targeted jobs and review the job posting and make a list of what terms or keywords appear many times, as this will give you an idea of what to use in your resume.

Beyond these tips, remember that even in the greatest of economies it takes time to land that perfect job.  If you’re not getting much traction in the way of interviews, consider using a professional resume writer.  They’re often able to help punch past that first layer and help land the interview.  In the end, remain positive and be persistent as you follow your dreams.

 

Michelle Kruse has more than 10 years of hiring and recruiting experience and a background in coaching and leadership development. At ResumeEdge, Michelle recruits and hires resume writers, provides training and ongoing support, manages strategic partnerships and serves as a subject matter expert on the job search process.

The SAT Essay: How to Plan and Prepare for it 1

Hand grasping pencil about to writeThe SAT is coming up on June 7. Chances are that if you’re taking it at this point, you’re probably taking it for the first time. It can be a daunting thing, particularly one of the more frightening sections — the essay. Not to fret! Today we’re here to talk about how to plan and prepare for writing a sock-blowing-off essay.

(Tip number 1: Don’t say “sock-blowing-off”.)

More…

Here’s How You Write a Perfect Application Essay 3

application4Search for “How to write an application essay,” in Google and you’ll instantly return more than 16 million pages (“How to write an admissions essay,” yields an additional million plus). Titles like “How to write an Application Essay,” “Writing the Successful College Application Essay,” and “How to Write an Outstanding Admissions Essay” draw in stressed-out high-school students and equally nervous/confused parents, tantalizing them with promise of some proven formula for writing the perfect essay. Heck, our acclaimed editing and consulting service, EssayEdge, wouldn’t exist if huge numbers of people weren’t looking for help with this challenging task. More…