Never has there been a more important time for self-disciplined studying. At-home learning can be a blessing and a curse. On one hand, you have the freedom to set your own schedule and manage your time on your own terms. On the other hand, there is a greater amount of room for procrastination. There are multiple pages across the internet which will tell you how to get yourself organized, focused, and inspired for the remote period. However, let’s focus on one physical aspect that can do all three – the study space. If you want to succeed in the virtual classroom, you need to create your learning haven where you can attend classes, work on projects, study for exams, and be creative. With the right study space, you will set yourself up for an eye-opening semester.
The first choice you will need to make when building your virtual learning space is WHERE to set it up. Placing your study space near certain amenities with a few key characteristics will enable a smoother learning process.
Utilize a Desk or Table
Studying on your bed may be comfortable, but it causes you to focus less on your work. You don’t want to be tempted into taking a nap during a study session – that never ends well.
Find a Charging Outlet
There’s nothing worse than realizing your own 10% during class (or worse, during an exam. Make sure this doesn’t happen by locating a nearby charger and outlet.
Keep Near Good Lighting
Placing your space near a window can help you feel less isolated. If this isn’t possible, make sure you have an overhead lamp with good lighting. Studying in a dimly lit room may affect your eyes and your concentration.
Keep Away From Familial Distractions
We love our families, but not when they distract us. Make sure they know your class hours and are respectful of your privacy (you may even want to write it down so they can remember). If you have siblings who love to run around, try to place your spot somewhere they are less likely to be.
Regulate the Room Temperature
Make sure you place your study space in a room where temperature won’t be an issue. If you know one room in your place is particularly hot or cold, try your best to avoid it. Nothing is worse than sweating bullets on Zoom.
Second, you’ll have to design your space how you want it. Showcase your personal style, but first consider these tips on what to include:
Your personal learning space should include enough room for your laptop, textbooks, writing materials, note taking paper, and other necessary supplies. Consider printing out your syllabus and putting each in their own folder to easily refer back to. Lastly, make sure the space you choose has enough room so all your supplies don’t get messy. Too much clutter reduces our ability to focus.
Decently Comfortable Chair
Find a chair that you will feel comfortable sitting in for the duration of your class periods, whether they are 50 minutes or 3 hours. It’s important to have a comfortable cushion so you’re not tempted to do your work on your bed, which can leave you open to distractions and have negative effects on your posture. If you need more chair support, consider adding pillows.
Student’s who are home for the semester can utilize candles or incense, which may not have been allowed in dorms. For those sharing an apartment or moving back to a dorm, consider a wallflower plug and fragrance. They are simple, portable, and come with a variety of scents for you to pick out and choose. Their scents can last for days, boosting productivity and memory. For better brainstorming: try scents such as lavender, jasmine, rosemary, and peppermint.
Snacks and Drinks
A water bottle and snack of your choosing can be valuable to prevent distractions during class and/or studying. Nobody should be hungry when learning, it only serves to make you miserable and therefore unproductive. Try snacks such as almonds, popcorn, or fruit. Having necessities nearby could also prevent a trip to the kitchen mid-class.
Online classes require an increased amount of self-discipline, so having certain organizational materials is essential. Not everyone is a daily planner user, but for those who have not tried one, there’s no better time. Stores such as Target, CVS, and Walmart have them for a reasonable price and they come with a variety of tools to organize your school work and outside life. If you need more in-depth planners, plenty of Youtubers such as Amanda’s Favorites, Kristina Braley, or Cindy Guenter-Baldo can give you a wider variety of options. Other organizational supplies which could be helpful are highlighters, sticky notes, or color-coded binders and dividers.
Plants can bring the natural outdoors inside. In fact, according to Forbes, a study done in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology reveals that being near plants (especially indoors) can reduce stress and anxiety. While increasing the air quality, plants also boost cognitive skills. No need to have a green thumb either, some plants require less intensive care than others. Popular dorm plants include succulents, cacti, aloe vera, or various air plants.
Giving your study space a sense of character will make you feel in control. Try decorating the area with simple embellishments like a poster, photo with friends, or college memorabilia.
Setting up a good learning environment conducive to your academic success, mental, physical, and emotional health is important, especially when transitioning to remote learning. No matter how the semester began, it’s important to remind ourselves that this won’t last forever. All we can do now is do the best we can with the resources we have. Best wishes to you and all you achieve this school year!