5 tips to create a good study space no matter how chaotic your dorm is

Welcome to your distraction-free zone

A desk with a laptop, cup of coffee, organizer, and pot plant on it with a pink ombre background.
(Image credit: Future / Beth Mahoney)

We get it. Dorm life is an adjustment. You’re living in a compact space and you’re sharing it with someone who you may never have met before. Plus, your dorm supplies need to include everything for eating, sleeping, studying, and hanging out. It’s a big change and one that can take a lil’ time to get used to. 

When your sleep and chill-out space is also your study space, it’s hella easy to get sidetracked. Take it from me, the queen of getting distracted (something I still struggle with today). Keeping your focus while getting homework done in a dorm room isn't always easy. For one, there’s often a whole other person in there with you doing their own thing. Then there’s the noise from other students on your floor. 

That being said, studying in your dorm room doesn’t have to be a struggle — all you need to do is create the right setup. So, how can you create the perfect dorm room workspace? I've got you covered with a list of tips.

1. Keep your desk organized

First things first, you’re never going to be able to study effectively if your desk is a mess. So, it’s vital that you learn how to organize a desk and keep it that way. The key to success here is to ensure that you have adequate tabletop storage. Think: desk organizers (Amazon has some really cute rose gold sets to choose from like this one), pen holders, and wall-mounted peg boards, such as this Amazon pick that only uses adhesive, so there's no damage done to your walls.

2. Create a cute desk setup

Organization is key but having a desk setup that you love is just as important when it comes to actually wanting to study there. If it’s just a plain wooden desk that your dorm features, you can customize it to create a more personalized space. An easy way to do this is to pick out a roll-out desk mat in your color of choice (this one from Amazon that I’ve had my eye on comes in lots of cute hues). You could also opt to add a stylish mouse and keyboard combo (like this highly rated wireless set from Amazon). While you might not be able to adjust the look of the desk itself, what you can do is personalize it, creating a setup that appeals to you. 

3. Make it easier to block distractions

When you share a dorm room it can be easy to lose focus, so finding ways to make blocking out distractions is a must. But, what can you do? As a gal who always got distracted while studying, take it from me, besties: There are some must-have buys that you need. A pair of noise-canceling headphones are essential (like these highly-rated Sony ones from Amazon). You can use them to play your fave tunes, podcasts, or white noise playlists. You might also find a good white noise machine to be beneficial if headphones aren’t your thing, but you’re still looking to block out background noise while you study. 

4. Ensure your desk chair is comfortable

Your dorm may have come with a desk or office chair, but if it’s not very comfortable this can hinder your ability to study effectively. If you’re allowed to swap out the chair you have with a new one, then you’ll find some really great picks at Target, like this upholstered swivel chair that’s both comfortable and stylish or this five-star rated ergonomic chair that reviewers love. If you’re not in a position to swap out your chair, another option is to upgrade the chair you have. An easy way to do this is to invest in a desk chair set of support pillows. We'd suggest this highly-rated gel desk chair pad from Amazon.

5. Get your lighting in check

You can’t study in a dark space, so making sure your desk set-up features good lighting is vital. Your dorm room will obvi have overhead lighting (ew), but to avoid having to use it and create the best ambiance, you'll want to pick out some cute dorm room lighting buys. To help keep your power sockets free for laptop chargers, opting for a rechargeable desk lamp could be an option worth exploring, too.

Listen up besties, we get it. Studying in a dorm isn't always easy. But with the (tried and tested) tips above, you should find it a little easier to keep your focus and get your studying done. 

Beth Mahoney
Freelance journalist

Hi! I’m Beth Mahoney and I’m a former staff writer at Real Homes. I’ve been a journalist for the national press for the past six years, specializing in commerce and trends-related lifestyle articles, from product reviews and listicles to guides and features. With an eye for pretty things (think: quirky wall prints, scalloped edge furniture, and decadent-looking tableware) but a limited budget, I love nothing more than a bargain buy.