I’m one of the many students that chose to stay home rather than head back to Waterloo for the Fall 2020 term, and having to learn from home has certainly been an adjustment. Sure, I studied here when I was in high school, but the amount of time and focus that high school demanded simply can’t compare to what virtual university requires of me. And already, I’ve found that my current set-up just won’t cut it. The décor is quite outdated, it’s uncomfortable, and there’s next to no organization. It feels impossible to focus with my room in its current state.
Thankfully, I have the means to make some adjustments, and so I’ve taken it upon myself to work on a mini room transformation. With that now in progress, here are some tips I have for anyone else needing to change things up.
Say goodbye to distractions and clutter
First thing’s first, you should probably make sure the contents of your room still suit you – I don’t know about you, but looking at all the clutter I’ve kept since I was 8 makes it hard for me to focus. This doesn’t mean you should get rid of the one or two super sentimental stuffed animals you can’t live without, but the 30 others you don’t care about and were just too lazy to deal with? It’s time to say goodbye. This also goes for posters and other general décor items that you’ve moved past.
Make it practical and comfortable
Now that your room is stripped of distractions, it’s time to make sure you have the right furniture to be comfortable while writing all those discussion posts. If you don’t already have one, it’s time to invest in a desk and chair set up. While you might think it’s fine to do your work from bed, it can make your studying routine and nighttime routines too similar, making it hard to focus and relax at the appropriate times. Even if you already have a desk and chair already, you may want to consider upgrading if you think it might make you more comfortable. You’ll also need some good lighting to make sure you aren’t straining your eyes staring at your laptop. I like having my desk near my window so I can get some natural light during the day, but the true essential is a good table lamp. Your LED lights might look super cool, but they’re just not enough for late-night textbook reading.
Beyond the basics, there are other room accessories that can enhance your comfort and productivity. A laptop stand can help with neck pain if you feel like you have to look too far down just to read properly. A second monitor can make it easier than ever to reference various resources while working. A small workout space will help you break up your day with some movement. These are definitely extras, but will help to make you far more comfortable while studying all day.
Create an organization system
You’ve got your basic workspace furniture now, but if you really want your room to be more functional, you’ll want to find ways to keep it organized. Filing cabinets and pull-out drawers are great for storing loose papers and notebooks, while baskets and cups help take care of pens, pencils and other small tools. You’ll also want to keep the other contents of your room organized, so make sure to keep your clothes tidy!
That organization should also extend to your schedule. I highly recommend having a calendar with important dates by your desk, so it’s easy to take one glance and know what you need to work on next. Having your schedule on your phone is okay, but it’s a lot easier to prioritize your time (and avoid distractions) if you can reference something that’s more visually clear.
Create an inspiring setup
All of the ‘essentials’ are taken care of, but your room probably feels a bit bare. This is your chance to come full-circle and make it your own, replacing the décor you said goodbye to earlier. How you decorate your room is up to personal taste, but do keep in mind that this is a space you’ll need to be productive and focused in. A lot of busy tapestries, posters and knick-knacks can be distracting and disorienting, which isn’t what you need when you have assignments piling up. Something that I think is really important is having decor that motivates you, especially given that with being away from campus, it's easier to feel detached from your long-term goals. I'm going to be adding a couple of prints with motivating quotes on them to my walls, to help me refocus on my goals.
Transforming your room to meet your new needs can be a daunting task, but by breaking it down into smaller steps, it can appear more manageable. Whether you’re changing up your childhood room or even just perfecting your rental unit, I wish you all the best in creating your ideal study space!