When you visit a cafe in Singapore, you’ll often see more students studying than customers chatting over drinks.
Even though students usually have little to no income, they’d rather leave the comfort of their own home to buy an expensive drink at a cafe priced at about $7.
We did an Instagram survey to find out that 55% of students prefer studying at public spaces such as cafes, as compared to studying at their homes — their reason being that they are more productive studying outside.
Is it really so? Let’s find out.
First, let’s look at some of the benefits of studying outside.
Being out of their comfortable environment
Students get more things done when they study outside, mainly because they are not in a comfortable environment that makes them feel lazier and tempt them to fall asleep.
You usually associate your homes with comfort and hence it may be difficult for you to switch your mentality to work mode.
When you’re in a public space, you will have to force yourself to sit up and focus on your task.
Putting aside household responsibilities
As students, their responsibility is not only to study but to also do their part in housekeeping and family matters.
When students want to focus on their studies at home, the household responsibilities at the back of their minds can make them feel more stressed out and overwhelmed.
Their parents might be reminding them to do the dishes, take care of their younger siblings, or pack their room. There might be never-ending responsibilities before the student can truly put their mind to studying.
Plus, when parents see their children at home, they would want to cherish the opportunity to spend time and have a conversation with their children, which could unintentionally cause their children to be distracted from their studies.
This is why students sometimes choose to head outside where they can “escape” their responsibilities just for a little while to study wholeheartedly.
Motivation from other students
When you go to common study places like libraries or cafes, you can usually find other students working really hard there too.
This can give you the motivation to study when you feel like you are not alone in the rigour.
This is in contrast to when you are at home where you might be studying while the rest of your family is having fun, watching TV etc.
The cons of studying outside
Clearly, there are a number of benefits to studying outside. But it is not without drawbacks.
There are still other reasons why the remaining 45% of students still don’t feel that studying outside is more productive:
Wasted time getting there
As it would pretty much go without saying, going to study outside means extra time wasted that you could have spent on studying.
You need time to get ready, maybe even pick out what to wear, and travel to your study place.
To put it into perspective, if you have only five hours to study, you might already have wasted one hour getting there.
It is counter-effective to trying to be more productive and get more work done.
It’s even worse if, after all the trouble, you still can’t get a seat, which brings me to my next point.
Uncertainty of seats
Because so many students are trying to study outside, you might struggle to secure a seat.
During peak periods such as examination periods, many students would even wake up extremely early such as when the library opens, just to try and secure a seat.
But they end up tired and unable to be productive due to the lack of sleep.
You also have to “chope” (reserve) your seat for the entire day if you wish to make good use of your time there, meaning that you can’t leave their seat for very long, other than a quick toilet break.
This behaviour might be considered inconsiderate to many as it also prevents library users from getting a seat to read their books and other customers from dining in, which affects businesses.
However, you wouldn’t be able to secure a seat outside otherwise.
Many businesses have to resort to chasing students out during peak periods as they have other customers to cater to.
This means that you don’t have certainty of seats when you travel out to study, as you may need to hop from place to place, which is very disruptive to your study session.
There are other forms of distractions outside
Although there might be distractions from family members at home, studying outside might not be the most conducive environment either.
At outdoor study spaces such as cafes, there may be distractions of other patrons talking loudly, or just a lot of movement from the surroundings.
When studying outside, you will also tend to study with your friends which might cause you to end up chatting instead of studying.
These distractions might break your concentration in their work, so studying outside might not work for everyone.
You can’t rest
You are bound to get tired when you spend so much of your energy studying.
But when you are in a public space, you have to stay in their seat for the entire time, not able to lie down when your back gets tired or when you need a quick nap.
The most that you can do is stand up and walk around, but you also can’t do so for too long as many places will get rid of unattended belongings.
There are pros and cons to both environments but since the majority of students still prefer to study outside, common study spaces such as cafes and libraries have to cope with the demand.
At the end of this article, the key takeaway is that you should explore what works better for you through trial and error.
Students may tend to just force themselves to stick to the environment that they’re used to but you might be surprised at how much you can actually boost your productivity with the right environment.
Want to know how you can improve your study environment at home? Read our articles: