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Finding a clean, distraction-free environment to study in can be difficult, but the benefits and productivity are worth it.

For some, online classes are something students had never experienced in their schooling, and they may have realized how tricky it was to navigate throughout the previous virtual semesters. Handling five or more simultaneous online classes may have added a few gray hairs to some Dukes. 

With spring semester starting and the potential promise of some in-person classes, here’s some advice to keep grades up and make the last semester of this school year one to remember. 

Find a new study spot

It’s always harder to study or get work done effectively in one’s living space without getting distracted. The best way to put all of one’s attention toward their work is to find a quiet location to focus on one’s workload. 

There are some great, secluded spots around campus that are top-notch for getting work done, including the stacks in Carrier Library, study rooms in Madison Union and even some quiet areas in the new COB building, Hartman Hall.

Clean your study space

If one chooses to remain home to study or work on homework, tidying up the area where one does their work is the best way to be proactive. A clean and organized environment should enlist better focus, since a cluttered workspace can be distracting. Rather than putting all of one’s focus toward the work in front of them, they may be more distracted by the mess. Having a clean room is also proven to reduce anxiety and improve one’s mood, which should help them with what they’re working on. 

Write a list

Sometimes it’s hard to be fully motivated to get work done if one’s feeling lazy. The best thing to do for this issue is to write a list every day of all the tasks one wants to get done. The list could include things like “clean room,” “finish assignment for class,” “study for test tomorrow,” etc. 

If one’s feeling anxious and they aren’t crossing off tasks on their list quick enough, they can include list items like “brush teeth” or “take a shower” so they feel accomplished for doing something essential during the day.

Set a timer

If one’s having trouble staying focused because of distractions like their phone or TV, the best way to stay on track is to set a timer for an hour or so, put away anything that could hinder focus and get as much work done as possible in that time. 

Then, once the hour is up, reward oneself with a phone or TV break, then do it all again. One should find it easier to work when they have something to look forward to at the end of the time period. They should find that they completed a substantial amount of work without distractions, which will make it easier for them to continue. 

Practice self-care

Make sure one’s staying healthy while attempting to finish assignments and study for tests. Eat well, get plenty of sleep, stay hydrated and exercise. One can’t expect their mind to perform well if one isn’t taking proper care of it. 

While working hard on assignments and spending long hours studying, it may be hard to remember to eat and drink water, so make sure to listen to one’s body cues.

Make a weekly calendar

The best way to make sure that one stays on top of their work is by making a calendar of everything they have due that week. 

Schedule a time on Sunday to sit down and write out a list of assignments that one has due, which should help them keep track of their work for the week and prevent them from getting behind. 

Treat oneself

As Tom Haverford from “Parks and Recreation” once said, “Treat yo’ self!” Having something to look forward to after one finishes a hard assignment or study session helps students stay motivated. Treat oneself to a movie night, a meal from one’s favorite restaurant or an ice cream night with friends. Make sure to be nice to oneself and have a reward at the end of a hard day of studying. 

The beginning of the semester is one’s opportunity to get on the right track. This is the best time to get prepared by reading syllabi, keeping track of assignments and getting to know professors. 

Contact Madison Mills at For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter and Instagram @Breeze_Culture.