Although study online means you can study from anywhere in the world, the best place to get some serious work done is in a dedicated study space.
What that space looks like is up to you, but here’s something of a wish list to create a space that’s optimised for concentration, creativity and results.
Find a room with a door
Sometimes this won’t be possible, but having somewhere you can shut out the world is much better than being on the end of the kitchen table. You’ll have to deal with fewer distractions, and if any of those distractions do decide to hunt you out, they’ll have to get past your closed door and “do not disturb” signs first. And while we’re at it – turn off your phone!
Only use it for studying
If you study in bed, you’ll end up obsessing about your assignment when you’re trying to sleep – or maybe falling asleep in the middle of a study session! Keeping a bit of separation between your course work and the rest of your life is essential for a good work-life balance, and will help you set boundaries if people try to disrupt you.
The point of a study space is to create a dedicated area for focusing on your studies. Make sure you don’t use it as a storage area for dirty laundry, don’t let the kids take it over for crafting and definitely keep it tidy so it’s ready to use the next time you’re feeling inspired!
Start with a desk or table
Sitting upright helps to keep you alert. Plus, you’ll find it easier to see your screen, take notes and browse through any notes you’ve already taken.
And make that a clear desk or table
Clear off any non-university paperwork and books. Have a bit of a tidy around before you start studying – a tidier space means your mind is needing to do less to stay focused on the task at hand.
But not too comfy! When you’re writing a dissertation that can be up to 15,000 words long, the chances are that you’ll be sitting in one place for many hours. Therefore, it’s essential for your health that you have a comfortable chair to sit in. Before you start, always make sure it’s set up correctly by checking your posture online.
Choose a chair you don’t mind sitting in for a couple of hours – but not one you’ll fall asleep on. And try to get dressed before you start studying, to mark out that it’s study time not chill time – but there’s no need to put a suit on – unless it helps get your brain revving up.
Check your lighting
Natural light is best – but not if it’s glaring directly onto your computer screen! Sit at a 90° angle to the window, which will stop the light from getting in your eyes. And if you can’t get a natural light, make sure you get a decent lamp in your room – working somewhere too dark is more likely to give you a headache.
Put your computer front and centre
This is the heart of your online study tools, and it’s important to give it the space it needs. Take some time to set up a folder on your PC that you keep all your course documents in, and remember to back it up regularly so you don’t lose your assignment if your laptop crashes the night before a deadline. Some students also like to invest in an eBook-reader to make reading on the go easier.
Keep pens and paper handy
Even if you prefer to take notes on a computer, keep a notepad and some pens nearby in case you need to jot something down in a hurry. And if you prefer handwritten notes, make sure you have a good organisational system, so you’re not leafing through a stack of pages for the one piece of information you need.
Think about the acoustics
Some people work best with music playing, but if that affect your concentration too much, why not try ambient sounds. Have a search online – there are tons of different options including rain, nature sounds and white noise. Experiment to see what works best for you.
Give it some character
Make sure the room is one you’re happy to spend time in. Get some air moving around by opening the window. Bring in some fresh flowers or potted plants, which will improve the air quality while also adding a touch of freshness to the space. And print out some motivational quotes – or even good feedback from previous assignments – to stick on the wall. Keeping family photos close by will also provide inspiration when you need it most!
We love seeing photos of our students in their study spaces, so feel free to share them on Instagram or Twitter with the #essexonline hashtag! Let us know what tips you have for setting up a space.