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Taking online classes this year? You’ll need to set up a remote workspace.
Your study environment can have a big impact on your performance at school. Creating a workspace optimized for remote learning can help you stay focused and driven throughout the year. Keep reading to discover how to create a remote workspace that sets you up for success.
Challenges of Studying From Home
Blurring the boundaries between home and school life can be distracting, especially if you share your living space with other people or have pets.
Gathering the motivation to study from home can pose a challenge, too. It’s easy to fall prey to the comforts of your bed when there’s no need to leave home to study at school.
On the other hand, studying from home can make it hard to find time to rest—if you don’t have to get up and leave the library eventually, for example, you’re free to keep working through the night. Studying at home makes it easier for the hours to slip by undetected because you’re not constricted by external schedules.
How Does Your Workspace Affect Productivity?
The environment where you work can have a big impact on your productivity. Ultimately, your study area should work with you, not against you. Below are a few factors to consider when setting up a productive workspace.
Physical clutter in the room can quickly lead to mental clutter. It divides your attention and limits your brain’s ability to process information. Your performance at school could suffer as a result. Maintain a well-organized workspace free of clutter and visual distractions to keep your focus sharp.
Sitting at a desk and studying for hours on end is taxing on the body. That’s especially true if you’re not using comfortable seating with an ergonomic design. Keep your body’s needs in mind while setting up your workspace. Do you prefer a standing desk? Will you be more comfortable on a chair that supports your lower back? Whatever the case may be, make sure you’re studying using comfortable furniture that supports your spine, neck and shoulders.
Students who work in quiet rooms with plenty of natural light tend to perform better on their schoolwork. A study from the National Institute of Mental Health found that artificial lighting, especially at night, can make it harder to concentrate and can even negatively affect your mood and sleep schedule. Avoid the late-night study sessions if possible and consider setting up a lamp with a lightbulb that mimics natural light for studying before or after daylight hours.
It’s important to consider noise levels when setting up an online workspace. Some ambient noise is unavoidable, but high noise levels cause serious distractions that can hamper any progress made toward effective studying. Consider noise-canceling headphones if your work environment is loud.
How to Optimize Your Workspace for School
Find Some Natural Light
Our brains are primed to respond to natural light with alertness and focus. It’s also known to positively impact cognitive function, boosting memory, reasoning and language skills. Take advantage of that and find a space with plenty of natural lighting.
Keep Necessities Close
Your pens, notebooks, computer charger, calculator and other necessities should be right on hand. You don’t want to spend time digging through your desk or getting up to look for something while you’re in the middle of studying.
A distracting workplace is less than ideal. Rooms with lots of noise or unpleasant colors aren’t great places for studying either. If you can, seek out spaces with neutral colors and little ambient noise.
Above all else, however, your phone will probably pose the greatest distraction to your studies. In fact, a 2021 study found that the average person spends five to six hours per day on their phone doing non-work-related activities. Do yourself a favor and silence it before beginning your work. Better yet, put it in a different room altogether. You’ll be surprised at how much studying you can get done when you’re not constantly being bombarded by notifications—or the temptation to scroll.
Organize Your Desk
You want to keep necessities close, but you’ll still need to keep clutter to a minimum. Prevent your supplies from crowding your desk by investing in a desktop organizer or dividers for your desk drawers.
Be aware of the coffee cups, water glasses and other dishes that pile up, too. You might consider putting a basket or container to place used dishes next to your desk. They’ll be out of sight while you’re studying, and it makes it easy to quickly pick them up and bring them to the kitchen during a break.
Tips for Learning From Home
Get a Change of Scenery
No matter how well you’ve optimized your space for remote learning, you might come down with cabin fever if you stay in the same spot for too long. A 2020 study showed that when individuals have more variety in their day it can boost their mood. Switch up your scenery every now and then if possible.
You might opt for studying at a coffee shop or at your school’s library if it’s available. If those aren’t accessible to you, try rearranging your room, such as moving your desk closer to a window.
Make a Study Schedule
Adhering to a routine study schedule builds good habits. Even if you can’t follow the same regimen every day, carve out regular periods for studying. If possible, align your study hours with when you feel most alert. For some people, that might be early in the morning with coffee in hand. For others, that may be late at night when the rest of the house is quiet.
Separate Your Workspace and Your Sleep Space
A simple golden rule to studying from home? Don’t work where you sleep. As tempting as it may be to study from your bed, you risk disrupting your productivity and your sleep schedule.
Our brains associate various places with actions. Typically, we associate our beds with sleep. But when we use our beds to study or work, we begin to associate the bed with being awake. That can lead to sleep problems down the road, which could ultimately impact performance at school.
Take Time for Self-Care
Some days, you’ll look up after a day of studying from home and realize you haven’t left the house yet. This can lead to feelings of restlessness and low morale. Throughout the day schedule regular times for walks, jogs, stretching or other activities that promote self-care.
Also, be sure to eat well, get enough rest and make time to do the things you love. You’ll boost your mood and maintain more energy throughout the day if you take good care of yourself.
Write Out Your Tasks and Goals
When making a to-do list try using a pen and paper. There’s almost nothing more effective than an old-fashioned checklist. Moreover, writing by hand reinforces our language and processing skills, which can help with memorization.