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Home vs. Library: Finding a Study Spot

lady with book above her head

Packing up your books and leaving the distractions of your house, you tell yourself that you’ll study much better in the library at uni. Your conviction lasts until the moment you arrive at the library and decide you need a coffee before you can start studying and oh no, you’ve forgotten your laptop power cord.

You decide to head home to the creature comforts that will definitely make studying easier and more productive. It’s the “I’ll study better at home/at uni” catch 22.

Having trouble deciding where you’ll study most effectively? Consider the following advantages and disadvantages of studying at home and in the library...

Some great things about studying at home are…

You have more time: Shaving your commute off your study schedule frees up valuable time in your day.

You have easy access to food and water: As well as saving money, studying at home means you have more control over what you eat. You can make sure you’re eating balanced, nutritional meals instead of fuelling your study session with four Red Bulls and a packet of vending machine chips.

You can be as comfortable as you like: Pyjama pants, socks and Ugg boots? Shirtless, shower-less and sweaty? Whatever floats your sartorial boat, studying from home lets you make it happen. Plus at home you can stretch out over tables, spread out your books, notepads and highlighters anywhere you like, and listen to music as loudly as you want.

Some not-so-great things about studying at home are…

You have more time: While it’s all well and good if you actually use the extra hours in your day for study, chances are you’re going to lull yourself into a false sense of security, thinking you have all the time in the world to study and ultimately wasting those extra hours looking at pictures of cats on the Internet.

You have easy access to food and water: Your study days at home involve more time spent snacking than studying. The availability of a constant stream of food and drink and the potential for elaborate, complex meal preparation can see you wasting more time.

You can be as comfortable as you like: Having the freedom to wear whatever you like while studying might not be as great as it sounds. Wearing comfy clothes that remind you of your pyjamas (or that are your pyjamas) may counter your study efforts by sending you to sleep.

Some great things about studying in the library are…

Fewer distractions: Sitting in the forced silence of the library, with only your books and notes to focus on, makes your study more effective.

Resources at your fingertips: Librarians, textbooks, statutes, obscure journal articles you can’t find online – the library has all the resources you need.

Other law students: You’re confused about something, you missed a lecture and don’t have the notes or you need to run through a problem question with someone? Your fellow library-going law students are always there to help you.

Some not-so-great things about studying in the library are…

Fewer distractions: The silence and stillness of the library can lead you down either of two paths: it can motivate you and you’ll find yourself 10 hours down the track, pale and glassy-eyed, having not had a break the whole time, or you’ll procrastinate silently, looking from the outside like you’re studying and convincing yourself that’s enough. Neither of these is desirable.

Resources at your fingertips: Free Wi-Fi, unlimited access to the most obscure old books, newspapers and journals to read, it’s easy to be distracted by all the resources in the library. After reading about Justice Kirby’s childhood for an hour you’ll probably convince yourself that you need a break from all your hard work.

Other law students: Oh hey look, all of your friends are here. A quick hello and a few minutes of conversation surely won’t hurt. Oh, it’s been 15 minutes. You should probably settle down and study, but they’re going for coffee, which has got to be a condition precedent to effective study.

Okay now seriously it’s been an hour and you haven’t started; sit down by yourself and get to it. You need a highlighter? Maybe just pop over and see if your friends have any. What’s that? Another coffee? Makes sense – you’re going to want another one later anyway. What’s the time? Oh no, the library shuts in an hour? Better not get stuck into it then. See you tomorrow? Same time?

While neither location is necessarily better than the other, they’re both superior to the alternative: shuffling back and forth between the two with the conviction that you’re absolutely, positively sure you’ll study better in the other place. With exams around the corner, make sure you find the right study spot for you and get to it!

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