Did you know the environment that you study in could affect how productive you are? Maybe that’s already something you knew affects yourself, as well as which environments work best for you and which don’t. Personally, I think there are some days when I work better in a café and other days when the big, quiet, engineering library seems more inviting. Most people go to coffee shops to relax, and chat with friends, but maybe that’s the kind of warm environment that you would seek to stimulate your mind and in turn, facilitate your productivity with homework and studying?

So far, I’ve mentioned a few characteristics of different environments that I enjoy working at, such as ‘big’, ‘quiet’, ‘warm’, and ‘relax[ing]’. Furthermore, I did some research online and found that the Western Governors University, an online university, provided 11 ways your surroundings can affect you when you study. For instance, they mention music, background noise, smells, lighting, temperature and humidity, comfort, the clock, and even feng shui.

Based on this initial search, I went ahead to do some additional research. Fortunately, I was able to find scientific evidence from a case study that demonstrated the significant relationship between office design and productivity. What the researchers of the study found was that out of five characteristics or “indicators” of office design, such as “furniture, noise, temperature, lighting and spatial arrangement”, lighting was the most influential factor for productivity of employees (Hameed & Amjad, 2009). After lighting, the study shows that spatial arrangement is most important. What this means is that lighting, whether dim, bright, fluorescent, natural, or colorful, can affect your level of energy, mood, and ultimately, your productivity.

Of course, there may be other elements of an environment that may impact you, such as whether there’s a certain number of art pieces on the walls, or whether there’s a specific number of other students who are in the area working on the same kind of tasks that you arrived to do. This is where it comes in handy to know what works best for you and what environment supports your focus on studying or completing a project.

There will be days when your friends say, ‘Let’s go to the library!’ and other days when you initiate a study session at your favorite café for a change in scenery with the hustle and bustle of people. Whichever kind of day it is, I encourage you to keep this in mind when choosing the best place to study and be productive. Good luck this semester or quarter and keep on keeping on!

Joyce An is a senior at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign working towards a Bachelors in Social Work. She plans to further her studies by obtaining a Masters and PhD in Social Work as well. Some of her interests and hobbies include art, reading, design, traveling, playing the viola and piano, as well as watching some of her favorite TV shows. Joyce is a student who strongly values education and works to promote this value in any way that she can. One activity she enjoys being a part of that seeks to promote the value of education is the P.A.C.E. (Planning to Achieve Collegiate Excellence) Program. This program reflects one of the missions of NSCS, which is also to promote education and beyond. Joyce hopes to continue to make an impact on her community and the NSCS chapter at the UofI while learning from other officers of NSCS and the National Leadership Council (NLC).