If you’re beginning (or continuing!) your online higher ed journey this year, make sure that you’ve set yourself up for success with the ideal home study space. Whether you have a dedicated room or just a corner of the living area, choosing the right desk, seating, lighting, and more can impact your ability to navigate online courses. Keep these tips in mind as you’re preparing your space for the semester ahead!
If your virtual schooling journey is scheduled to last a while, having an adjustable desk will help you make the most of your home study space. While standing desks are popular, you might be too tired some evenings to complete all of your work on your feet. Adjustable desks come in various options – the more expensive kind transition as a whole unit that you can raise and lower easily. For a more budget-friendly choice, pick a stand that can sit atop your stationary desk and adjust as needed. Some options are even fairly portable so that you can work elsewhere for a day if necessary!
If you’re spending all day staring at a computer screen, you might not think that lighting matters much; the computer is backlit, so why would a lamp make a difference? The truth is that our eyes strain to see even a backlit screen if the room is too dark. Adding light to your space will reduce the stress from a very bright screen and allow you to see books and notes more clearly, as well. Consider both whole-room lighting and lighting that’s directly on your desk. For overhead lights, switch to “daylight” style LED bulbs; these will add a cooler tone to the room and remind your body that it’s daytime (or trick your body if you’re studying late at night) so that you don’t start drifting off during lessons. As for desk lamps? Here’s where you can add some personal style. Browse offerings like these to find one that complements your décor; you’ll want one with at least 40 watts (or LED equivalent) and up to 65 watts.
Seating is so important when studying – if your feet aren’t supported, and your back isn’t comfortable, it will be much harder to direct your attention to coursework. For optimal support, look for an ergonomic chair (these options are surprisingly affordable!). If you can, head into a store to sit in various models before committing; comfort will depend a lot on your specific build and preferences. If shopping in-person isn’t possible, opt for a purchase that has a decent return policy, and make sure to keep ALL of the components when you unbox. If you feel like studying is just one more time of day that you’re sitting, sitting, sitting, then choose a non-traditional seating option like a yoga ball. By engaging various muscle groups while you sit, not only will you get a workout, but your mind will be more focused than ever!
If you typically complete schoolwork after a long day at work and with the family, the last thing you need is to spend thirty minutes looking for the appropriate book or a pencil to take notes during the recorded lecture. Set yourself up for success with some desktop organizational items. The first step is to identify what kind of materials you’ll need for school – papers, pens, post-its? Then find a storage tray system that has slots for those items (and ideally not any extra; additional spaces will just fill up with clutter). You can easily find organizers that come in cheerful colors or more neutral materials to coordinate with your area. Not sure what you’ll need in future semesters? Opt for stackable solutions or part of a system so that you can easily add more pieces down the road.
You’ll be spending a lot of time in this space, so adding a few personal touches to make it feel warm and inviting will do wonders for your ability to concentrate. Don’t think that sparse and restrained equals productivity; on the contrary, you’ll be far more successful when you feel relaxed and welcome in your space. Adding a plant is a great way to bring some color and warmth to your study space; opt for a variety that will help freshen your air and is low maintenance. Also, consider adding items that help you feel calmer – special artwork, family pictures, or even these Calm Strips (available in many colors and designs!). Most importantly? Decrease those distractions! Face your desk away from any televisions or shared living spaces, and find a spot to place your phone where it’s out of reach during study time.
Once you have a comfortable and inviting study space, you’ll be set up for virtual schooling success!