How do I get myself to study seriously

Learning outside: 10 tips for more productivity and less stress

by Tim Reichel

Finally nice weather.

Sit in the sun, wear a t-shirt and eat ice cream. Just enjoy the summer - that would be nice. But unfortunately your studies see it a little differently. Instead of lying comfortably on the meadow and letting your thoughts wander, you have to go to the lecture and then at your desk for your next exam.

If you want to enjoy the sun despite a full study plan, you only have one option: Learn outside.

But this outside learning is tricky. Because instead of productive work, your outdoor study sessions quickly become pure alibi actions that will not get you any further and ruin your plans for this semester.

If you are serious about studying outdoors, you need discipline and a smart strategy. But please don't get me wrong: You shouldn't cram every free minute with work and even spend the little free time that you have left with learning. But if you're already moving your workplace outside - at least do it right!


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So you can learn productively and relaxed outside

To make it easier for you, I will now give you 10 tips on how you can learn more successfully outdoors.


Tip 1: choose suitable tasks

Learning is multi-layered and can include very different tasks: reading, summarizing, researching, learning by heart, thinking, arithmetic and much more.

Not all of it can be taken outside with you - you simply have to solve some tasks at your desk. Therefore, think about which tasks can be carried out comfortably from a deck chair without large aids.

If you have to write a summary of 8 different sources or want to calculate an empirical case study with 4 intermediate steps, you better do these tasks in your room. But if you want to go through your summary, read a book chapter, or review your index cards, you can safely move your lesson outside.


Tip 2: reflective displays on electronic devices

Anyone who has ever tried to work with a notebook in the sun knows how annoying a reflective screen can be. You don't see anything. It's no better on many smartphones and tablets.

This helps:

  • Use a device with a matt screen (finish)
  • Work in the shade
  • Increase screen contrast and brightness
  • Use laptop hood (looks very stupid)

Even with these steps, working with the display outdoors is not optimal and always associated with restrictions. Therefore, consider whether you cannot do without electronic devices when learning outside.


Tip 3: keep a to-do list

While you study outside and go through your assignments, you can think of additional intermediate steps and questions that you cannot work on at the moment. At your desk, you could google it quickly, look it up in a book or add to your documents - unfortunately this is not always possible outside.

Therefore, when you study outside, make a rough to-do list on which you write down everything. You can then work through the list later.

Take a look at the Getting Things Done method and avoid stupid to-do list mistakes.


Tip 4: Avoid sources of interference right from the start

If you want to study outdoors, your concentration will be put to the test. Almost everywhere there are sources of interference that can distract you and keep you from learning.

Therefore try to avoid these interferers from the beginning. Watch out for lawnmowers, noisy, busy streets or playing neighboring children, who could get on your nerves after a short time.

At the beginning, it is better to invest a little more time in choosing the right location than having to move on later, annoyed and unmotivated.


Tip 5: listen to music

A good remedy for noise and other distractions is music. So put together a suitable playlist that you can take outside to study.

In this way you isolate yourself a bit from the environment and can approach your tasks in a more focused manner. The music shouldn't distract you, just relax and motivate you.

Alternatively, you can speak your summaries and learning content on tape and listen to them while lying in the sun. So you have your own little podcast, so to speak, and you can do without additional documents.


Tip 6: don't forget your sunglasses

Always take sunglasses with you when studying outside. Without sunglasses, reading becomes too strenuous in the long run and your eyes get tired. You will also get headaches faster and lose concentration.

Reflective paper and reflective screens enhance these effects and make tinted glasses indispensable.


Tip 7: change of location

You will make greater progress in learning if you change your location in between and work at different locations.

By changing your environment, different regions of the brain are stimulated, which makes it easier and easier to memorize the learning content.

Of course, that doesn't mean that you should pack your things every 20 minutes and study elsewhere. Divide your learning session into meaningful units and realign yourself in between. If you notice that a change of location would be good for you: Change.


Tip 8: drink a lot

Don't forget to drink! When you study outside (in the sun), your body needs more fluids than usual to keep it performing.

Therefore, always take enough water with you and make sure that you drink regularly. If necessary, set a timer that will remind you automatically.


Tip 9: work with transparent sleeves

If you study in the blazing sun and maybe even smeared yourself with sunscreen, you have to be careful not to get any stains on your documents or books.

Transparencies or other protective covers that you can wrap around your learning materials will help you with this. This way you can touch everything without leaving annoying fingerprints.


Tip 10: time management

Just because you're outside doesn't mean you can be unproductive and waste your time.

Learning outside does not mean relaxing outside. Therefore, divide your time precisely and determine when you want to study and when you want to relax in the sun. Plan your learning units and differentiate between work and leisure. Then you don't need to have a guilty conscience later.

Here I'll show you how to get your time management under control step by step.


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When the weather is right, learning outside can be a nice change from the stressful everyday university life and combine the beautiful with the necessary. However, if you want to be productive in the process, you have to follow a few rules of the game and take outside learning seriously.

Doing something for the university on the side usually doesn't work.

That's why I've shown you 10 short tips in this article that will make things easier for you and turn you into an outdoor learning professional. One last suggestion: Be honest with yourself and evaluate your learning sessions afterwards. Did you really study outside and take something with you, or just hang out in the sun and dream?

There is nothing wrong if you want to enjoy the beautiful weather and rest. But then you have to make yourself aware of this and not convince yourself that you have been hardworking. Otherwise you are lying to yourself.

It is better to take 2-3 hours off one afternoon, go to the park and then sit down at your desk in the evening, than to go through 5 hours of pseudo-learning that will make you unhappy in the long term.

Either study outside or chill outside. Both are not possible.


Image: © Ryan McGuire /