Creating the Ideal ‘Zen’ 禪 Study Environment

Let’s be honest; as much as we desire to be worldly and knowledgeable, finding the effort and willpower to study does not come easily. This is exacerbated when there are many other things to do, which are much less of a brain-drain. E.g. Stalking your favourite fashion bloggers, procrasti-baking, reading, making your millionth cup of tea or individually moisturising each strand of hair on your head (or elsewhere on your body).

What is often forgotten is that our environment can be one of the key determinants of our study success. There is so much emphasis on being technological savvy in order to create greater access to resources, that we forget the basics of andragogy. The prism of adult learning requires individuals to take initiative themselves in gaining knowledge. During our tertiary education years, a teacher will not prod us along. Any education past high school requires a high level of self-discipline, organisation and a touch of innovation.

The key to your success will be contingent upon the type of environment you create. As a full-time uni student who also works almost full-time, harnessing my efficiency has been vital. Here are some of my top tips:

Eliminate Clutter

My dachshund will not go to the bathroom outside on the grass if it has just rained, because she hates getting her paws and tummy wet (she is a bit of a precious pooch). Similarly, I will not study or be productive if my desk is cluttered. As they say, ‘cluttered desk, cluttered mind.’

Dedicate 10 minutes in preparation for a study session removing any unneeded items from your desk space.


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Pinterest is always the source of much office space inspo. Photo cred: Bloglovin’
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Try to use mostly neutral and relaxed tones in your study space

Go in Feeling Fresh

If your hair is greasy, your legs are unshaven and your lips are chapped, then studying is not going to be an effective endeavour. Wake up with a warm shower, grab your favourite scented moisturiser and spritz the air with some rosewater.

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Crabtree & Evelyn have the most gorgeous, fruity moisturisers

I would also recommend placing a plotted plant in your study area. I’m talking about a real plant here, just fyi. That means something that needs to be nurtured, even if it is just a regular succulent. There needs to be something else that is real in your study area, other than the leather on your armchair.

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One of the succulents from my garden (I believe the species is Alpha)

Clear Your Head

If you have an office-job and are usually immobile, you really need to work on keeping the blood flowing to your brain. I would highly recommend Kayla Itsines’ Bikini Body Guide for short and quick workouts. The key focus for me, is making sure that my nervous system is releasing endorphins, rather than getting my prepped for summer. (Anyone who knows me well will realise that I’m a timeless patron to the one-piece swimsuit). If you don’t have time to actually get your ass to the gym, it’s just as easy to roll out a yoga mat in your house and work the booty at HQ.

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Kayla Itsines, the self-made Fitness Queen

If you are feeling sluggish, I highly recommend taking Ginkgo Biloba supplements. Ginkgo improves blood flow to the brain and acts as an antioxidant. It is recognised as a great way to sharpen the mind and improve memory. Ginkgo Biloba can be purchased as most chemists.


A beautiful, scented candle, other than being a bit of a fire-hazard, is also a great way to create a relaxed environment (bit of an oxymoron there).

Our cornerstone candle brand, Glasshouse, has some of the strongest, most aromatic scents on the market. Smells like caramelised sugar, fig and peach will take you deep down the rabbit hole.

If you are looking for something a bit subtler, Byron Bay Candle Co definitely do deliver. I have a couple of their candles in ‘Crisp Champagne’ and ‘Black Orchid’ and they are divine. You just need to click your ruby red slippers together, light a match and you’re ready to go.

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Byron Bay Candle Co in ‘Black Orchid’

Alternatively, if you are not an asthmatic and don’t mind the smoke, consider lighting a stick of incense. Incense is really important to me, as it reminds me of my travels through India and other parts of Asia. Incense will take you to other parts of the world and rather than studying, you might be tea-sipping in Darjeeling, trekking in the foothills of Pokhara and experiencing baptismal plunges in the Mother Ganga at Varanasi.


Water is honestly the best thing that you can drink while you are studying and I wish that I could claim to live by the ‘8 cups a day’ rule. I drink one, maybe two glasses a day at best. This is because I have a penchant for beautiful tea.

Tea creates love and brings people together. Alice in Wonderland is a testament to this. I would recommend that you hit up T2 for some of the loveliest blends. My personal favourites are Ruby Red Rosehip and Ayurvedic Chai (with a heap of honey).

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If you are feeling particularly indulgent, and need to get the creative juices flowing, then add a Gin and Tonic to your study session (preferably not as a daily occurrence). With a squeeze of lime and some Hendricks Gin, there is absolutely nothing more refreshing!


I honestly have no clue how people study while listening to heavy metal or trap music. I find it so distracting and I just want to get up and dance. Don’t get me wrong, I truly do appreciate a broad spectrum of music and dabble in disco-tech from time to time, especially if I’m in the mood for a boogie. But if concentration were what you are seeking, I would seek out some of your fave classical composers.

If you are one of those people who hate on classical music, then you’re tacky and I hate you. My mantra is that if you can’t Handel it, Beet it and don’t come Bach 😉 Studies have proven that the ‘Mozart effect’ is not a myth. So you better plug in some Tchaikovsky if you want to get an HD.

Have Something to Look Forward To and Articulate Your Goals

As Leonardo da Vinci aptly stated, “Study without desire spoils the memory, and it retains nothing that it takes in.” It’s so important to recognise the importance of knowledge. This is oft forgotten in a society that is fuelled by the desire for self-actualisation in a digital and narcissistic world. At the end of the day, being able to hold a good conversation is much more arousing than having a pretty face.

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Focus on your goals and pin them to an ‘inspiration board’ if this helps you visualise your future. My inspiration board pretty much consists of expensive, aged cheese, vineyards in Tuscany and pictures of me photo shopped into a Barrister’s robes. Whether you want to be wealthy and have sex appeal or just have a sense of accomplishment, an inspiration board is the best way to help you focus on your goals.

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Writing down your goals is the best way to help you visualise them

In the short term, you need to reward yourself for all of your hard work. Most of us students study while we work, and that is no easy gig. Hence, I’ll be jetting off to Canada in a few short months (thanks to my lovely boyfriend) because life’s short and I have a craving for maple syrup 😉 if you know what I mean. (I mean I really like maple syrup).

If you are feeling down about your ability to motivate yourself, always remember that tomorrow is a new day and it is never too late to begin something new.


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