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Keeping A Productive Workspace

Spring semester is always difficult. It’s shorter than fall semester, the weather is weird (especially this year), and the stress and anxiety settle in early on. That mid-semester slump hits harder — and sooner — than you expect it to. Yet, there are some things you can do to keep up your motivation in this gloomy time.

Yes, there’s always exercising and eating healthy, finding a new hobby, taking up a healthy outlet, blah-blah-blah. But, another way to stay productive is by keeping an organized work area. Whether you’re studying in your dorm or at the library, you can prioritize your study space for maximum productivity.

Here’s how you can focus up at the desk!


Only have out what you need.

You should have everything you need at your fingertips when you’re working — nothing more, nothing less. Pull out all of your study materials before you start. Have all of your books, notebooks, pens, pencils, highlighters, and whatever else you need already on your desk and ready to go.

Organize all of your supplies on your desk once you have everything out. If you’re in the library, consider putting your planner and pens/pencils on the top shelf. If you’re in your dorm, organize your books in the order you’ll be using them. (Plus: Ordering your books can help you create a study to-do list that will keep you focused.)

Having everything readily available will keep you on the track to success.


Put your phone on Do Not Disturb, face down, and on a corner of the desk.

Smartphones are huge distractions when you’re studying. You may not be able to turn off the Wi-Fi on your computer to avoid going on social media, but you can keep your phone away at the very least.

Whenever I study, I put my phone on the edge of my desk or on a different table. I set it on Do Not Disturb, and make a point not to check it while I’m working. If I’m expecting an important message from a friend, I’ll let them know that I’m going into study-mode and that I’ll get back to them when I’m done.


Set a mood.

Decorating your desk space can be just as helpful in making your study area more productive. You can use scents and colors to maximize your focus. For example, scents like pine and cinnamon increase your alertness and focus. And, colors like blue and yellow can increase your productivity and creativity. 

If you’re at the library, you can still make this work for you. Bring colored pens with you. Wear a blue or yellow shirt. Invest in scented hand moisturizer. You could go really above and beyond and even buy a specific colored water bottle that you use only when you’re studying. Clearly defining items for studying can help keep you focused. It’s like telling your brain, “Okay, this is what we’re doing now, because the water bottle’s out and that means business.”

(And, if you’re looking for a general memory tip related to color: Red pen on yellow paper increases your chance of remembering the information!)


Whatever your decisions may be, staying productive is the most important thing in getting schoolwork done. It’s definitely not easy, but these tips might help you stay focused. Get organized and have fun studying!

Katie is a senior, and mass communications major on the advertising track with a minor in electronic media and film. Katie loves movies, especially Clue, but the full list is much longer! Her hobbies include writing, watching hilarious YouTube videos, listening to old '80s hits on repeat, and learning all about the hot new memes. 
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