According to The New York Times, at the beginning of March 2020, 30% of undergraduate students were enrolled in online classes and 13% were learning completely online. These numbers increased dramatically as most universities shifted to online learning for the remainder of the spring 2020 semester.
If you’re among the millions of students who now find themselves taking classes online, or even if you’ve had a few semesters of online learning under your belt, online learning presents some unique challenges. From meeting virtually with professors and attending Zoom classes to studying for tests and writing papers, the amount of work you need to get done at home may require you to rethink how you manage your academic studies.
It can be easy for students to get distracted by a variety of things while studying, such as doing dishes, starting laundry, or deciding to make a snack. Because of this, setting up a dedicated study space at home can help keep you focused. Here are some tips to get you started.
1. Create a Space That’s Free of Distractions
Students often have their own unique preferences when it comes to study spaces. Some like to study in busy coffee shops, while others study best in quiet corners of their college library. But studying away from home isn’t always going to be an option – at the very least, you’ll have to schedule your study time around your favorite establishment’s operating hours. Even if it’s your second choice, there are many benefits that come with establishing a single, quiet, dedicated study space at home.
A study space can be a home office, attic nook, kitchen table, or — for those who have limited living space — an area in a bedroom or living room. Creating a dedicated space may be an ideal choice if you are easily distracted and have a hard time focusing amid other distractions, such as the television, smartphone notifications, and social media accounts. If you thrive by studying in silence, it may help if you make a habit of turning your music off and setting your phone to silent mode.
2. Make It Comfortable
If you are now completing your studies at home, you should remember that your study space needs to be comfortable for it to be effective.
What usually comes to mind when you think of a comfortable at-home place to study? Most of us think of propping up and reading in bed or sitting on the couch. While these may be the most convenient places for the time being, it can benefit students to invest in a chair and, if possible, a desk. A comfortable yet professional learning environment can have many benefits for students, who may find that working in bed is not very productive.
There are also environmental factors that contribute to an ideal study space. For example, it should be a place where the temperature isn’t too hot in the summer or too cold in the winter. You should consider purchasing fans or cozy blankets if your study conditions are too warm or chilly and cause you to lose focus.
You can also make your study space comfortable by adding a bed or blanket for your pet. This can make it more emotionally comfortable, as you will have the company of your favorite study buddy.
3. Make Sure You Have Enough Space
Space can be at a premium for students living in an apartment or shared space. You should ensure you have enough physical space, especially if you have roommates or family members who may need to use the study area at the same time. If multiple individuals need to share an office or desk, you should have a schedule or make necessary arrangements to ensure everyone can complete their studies and work tasks.
A study space should have an appropriate amount of learning space for students to be able to accomplish their work. If you need to use a laptop, multiple textbooks, and a notebook, you should have enough room to use all three simultaneously. If this means that you need a larger desk, it may be worth investing in one.
4. Set the Lighting
Different students work at different times of the day due to work schedules and factors such as when they are the most productive. For people who want to study during daytime hours, choosing a space that has natural light is essential. Designing a study space near a window can help you enjoy the sunlight and fresh air while working.
On the other hand, it is important for you to choose a space where your computer screen isn’t impacted by direct lighting. For students who work primarily in the evening and nighttime hours, picking a good artificial lighting arrangement is necessary.
5. Keep It Clean
Just as comfort can make or break a study space, so can cleanliness determine whether the space adds to your productivity or not. Keeping a study space tidy is important, as this can help diminish anxiety if you get stressed over messes. Regularly dusting or wiping down your study area can alleviate that stress and lead to a more effective environment.
Some people find that clutter distracts them, and if a study space is littered with dirty dishes, a full trash can, and empty cups, what should have been a study session could turn into a cleaning binge. You should try to allot a specific amount of time to washing dishes or taking out the trash before you begin working on assignments.
Keeping a study space clean can also prevent the spread of germs. Most people are doing their best to stay healthy at this time, and regularly cleaning your study space with wipes or antibacterial spray can help.
6. Personalize It
You can personalize your study space in different ways, such as by adding curtains, shelves, photographs, a clock, artwork, plants, and music. Memo boards, agendas, and corkboards can also make a space more personal, while helping you stay organized.
Some students find that they learn better when they listen to classical music, while others prefer to study in complete silence. Some music streaming services have stations that are dedicated to ambient sounds for working and studying. If you work best with noise, it can be helpful to have white noise for studying playing in the background while you work.
Start Designing Your Study Space
Even though you may have a regular study space at a coffee shop or library, it’s a good idea to design an effective study space at home. It could be a corner in your bedroom, a desk in an office, a table on your patio, or a blanket in the front yard. Study spaces can be effective and inspiring at the same time, as you make it a comfortable and personalized environment. The most important thing to remember when designing your study space is making it your own, because only you know the conditions that will help you work best.
EZ Living Interiors, Why Should You Have a Dedicated Study Area?
Freshome, “30 Back-to-School Homework Spaces and Study Room Ideas You’ll Love”
Learning Scientists, “Where Should I Study?”
The New York Times, “Everybody Ready for the Big Migration to Online College? Actually, No”
Pacifica Companies, Tips to Create a Dedicated Study Space
Real Living, 7 Essentials for a Study Area
RoomSketcher, “10 Things to Consider When Planning a Home Office or Study”
Spotify, White Noise for Studying