When you enroll in online courses, you aren’t tied to a specific schedule. And you free yourself from the constraints of a physical classroom. But all this flexibility comes with a cost. With no campus, you must decide when and where to study. It’s up to you to find and create the perfect spot for learning, a place that's ready when you are.
Consider these ideas and tips when creating the best study area for your specific environment.
1. Choose a Dedicated Space
The first step in creating your workspace is to lay claim to a specific area. With laptops and other mobile devices, it’s easy to just flop down on the couch and work from there. That casual approach to working or studying, however, makes it easy to get distracted. If you have a dedicated work area, you’ll be more inclined to focus on the task at hand. A dedicated workspace can serve as a good visual clue to other people living in your home. They will begin to respect your work zone and refrain from disturbing you when you’re seated at your work station.
Some students try to study and do their homework anywhere they can – even in noisy, high-traffic areas with lots of distraction. Rather than sprinkle your study time all over the map, it is recommended that you choose a single, specific location. Create your space for learning.
2. Keep Your Space Clean and Organized
Once you’ve claimed your study area, take some time to set it up. Make sure there’s plenty of room for your computer, textbooks, and all the paperwork that will accumulate. You should invest in a filing system to keep yourself organized. And you might like to hang up a poster with an inspirational quote that will keep you motivated. Make sure everything in and around your work station has a designated home. Too often, areas become cluttered simply because you put things down with the expectation that you’ll find a place to store it later. Once you assign a home for everything, commit to putting everything away at the end of each study session. This tactic will prevent the build-up of clutter.
3. Create a Workspace that is Comfortable, Yet Still Efficient
Of course, you want to be comfortable while you’re working, right? But how comfortable is too comfortable. It can be a fine line, as the main goal of your study area is to study, not lounge around. This is why we recommend dressing the part when studying. Change out of your lounge clothes such as your pajamas before you start studying, as it gives your mind the signal that you are physically ready to get to work. Additionally, it can be important to take into consideration how you position your body when hitting the books. Take into consideration how you sit or stand since one of the most important things to remember is ergonomics. You can spend a ton of money on expensive, therapeutic upgrades to improve your posture if you have the cash, or you can look for simple, do-it-yourself hacks. Repurpose that old, empty crate as a footrest, or set your laptop on top of your dresser for a makeshift standing desk. Your body will appreciate being properly positioned during those long nights studying – or procrastinating – online.
Blogger Kelly Clay has some great recommendations for bringing ergonomics to your home office. She advises you to have a friend or family member check your sitting posture and give you feedback. At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that it’s study time, not lounge time.
4. Find an Area with Natural Light
We recommend situating your study space near a source of natural light. Sitting in a traditional classroom or working in an office oftentimes brings the unfortunate reality of having to sit under fluorescent lighting. When creating your space, you have the option to choose your own lighting. Your body loves natural light, and it can bring warmth and life to a room. Additionally, you can also include a houseplant in your study space which will also enjoy the natural light. It can also improve the air quality or your indoor space while making the area more serene, which can be necessary to make your study area a place you actually want to spend time in.
5. Make the Space for Studying Only
You may find yourself performing other activities unrelated to studying such as streaming your favorite shows, calling your friends, and scrolling through social media. While these things can be a great way to unwind, your space should only be used for studying. Preserving it as a dedicated study space will help preserve its association with learning. Find the time to remind yourself that studying is a positive thing, as it can only help you move forward and can help bring excitement to your future career.
Congratulations! You’ve got your very own study space. Now you’re ready to bring school to you in an area that is meant for studying and is uniquely yours. How did you set up your perfect space? Take a picture and share it on our Facebook page.
Written by University Staff