A slice of Shalheaven: Serene and productive

Katie Feld, Illustrations Editor

Whoever said school ends at 4:45 flat-out lied.

This isn’t a rant about co-curriculars and how much time they take up. It is, however, a formal shout-out to anyone who is freaking out over a stressful load of homework that is only getting bigger.

I know I can easily spend up to three hours a night doing homework. That’s 15 additional hours of schoolwork per week!

But with the right vibe in your personal study space you can eliminate a small portion of this horrible stress. Personally, I need my work desk to be very neat and organized to be able to focus. But creating the best study space is a matter of personal style.

If you are unsure where to begin, don’t stress out — that would totally defeat the purpose, right?  To break the task up into smaller focuses, I suggest letting your senses guide you. Focus on the tastes, sights, sounds and smells that you love, the ones that relax you. Find your favorites and incorporate them into your new workspace.

Taste. When thinking about your favorite taste, I recommend going with a tea. Mr. Roy Danovitch, school-renowned tea expert, suggests English Breakfast Tea as the best pairing with “English homework, or any assignment that requires deep reading, or deep writing.”

Interviewed via e-mail, Dano stated that this special blend “provides tranquility, calm, and comfort, and has a much more subtle and spiritual impact than coffee, which tends to work too fast and recklessly.” However, he cautions that you must properly prepare it.

“This means allowing the tea to marinate in boiling – not warm or ‘hot’—water, and pouring in milk only after the marination is complete, a modest dose of sugar should be dropped in, and the tea will acquire a deep, dark, brownish-burgundy hue. After the milk descends into the water, it should re-surface like a gorgeous, cumulus cloud, and then settle on the top like a soft down pillow.”

Even reading about it is relaxing.

Sight, having to do with location, plays a large role in your study space. Mrs. Tove Sunshine, Shalhevet’s very own and very dedicated psychology whiz, suggests that it is beneficial to study regularly in the same place.

“We tend to remember things by context” explains Mrs. Sunshine. “It helps to reinforce what we learn and add to the information more effectively.” So a consistent location could improve your grades.

Hearing. There are mixed opinions on whether playing music while doing schoolwork hurts or helps concentration. In my non-scientific survey, I found that most people enjoy having music on while they do homework. Conversely, Shalhevet’s legendary music teacher, Mrs. Joelle Keene, has trouble getting any work done with even “two notes of music in the background.”  Go figure.

Personally, I can listen to my Pandora and do math homework, but I get extremely distracted by music when reading or writing. Again, it really all comes down to personal style. I recommend trying out different genres with various kinds of assignments and seeing what works for you.

Touch. All of these tips mean nothing unless you’re physically comfortable. Start with a big comfy chair – I prefer one on wheels because they’re just a lot more fun.

Smell. Candles have all the power to make or break your ambiance. My favorite scent right now is called “Indigo Nights” by Patriot Candles, but I usually go with the classic apple cinnamon scent. If you are more of an incense person, my only advice is to make sure you can smell them before you buy – and that’s speaking from personal experience.

In the end what it really comes down to is your own individual preferences, but I encourage you use this advice as a stepping-stone to creating your serene and productive workspace vibe. We spend so much time at school, and it doesn’t even end when the last bell rings. Why not create an enjoyable, stress free vibe to come home and do homework in?