Finally done customizing that all-in-one perfect home office space? Sorry. It turns out that the best atmosphere for learning is not a place at all; it's a method. Research has proven that changing your scenery helps you retain information better than if you stayed in one place. So try supplementing your dedicated home office with a secondary station. We've got three ideas for you.
The New York Times Mind blog discusses how research has actually de-bunked what we're taught are "good" study habits. Among them? The idea that we need a dedicated space to take our work.
Instead, research suggests that we change our scenery to really help our work stick:
The brain makes subtle associations between what it is studying and the background sensations it has at the time, the authors say, regardless of whether those perceptions are conscious. It colors the terms of the Versailles Treaty with the wasted fluorescent glow of the dorm study room, say; or the elements of the Marshall Plan with the jade-curtain shade of the willow tree in the backyard. Forcing the brain to make multiple associations with the same material may, in effect, give that information more neural scaffolding.
So whether you're a med school student studying vocabulary or a business exec trying to commit that Power Point presentation to memory, you can help your brain do it's job by challenging it with new surroundings.
Get out of your oh-so-awesome home office for a bit and try one of these three easy ways to change your scenery:
A Laptop Table
Take your laptop to the living room (or anywhere else) with a laptop tray or table.
A Public Computer
Are you chained to the desk with a desktop computer? Change up your scenery by moving to the library or your apartment's communal office room.
Take your Power Point or flashcards on the go and study whenever there's down time. Google around for iPhone, iPad, Blackberry or Android apps that let you view office documents or download digital flashcards.