I miss being able to study in new environments such as coffee shops, friend’s places and various buildings on campus. The pandemic has forced me to be at the desk in my room a lot more often than I would’ve expected before the pandemic. Although I did study at home from time-to-time before, it was never my main study space. This year I felt the need to make some small changes to my study space to allow for optimal efficiency when studying and creative inspiration to spark when working on projects. After implementing these changes I’ve come to like studying within my apartment a lot more, and I thought it would be a great idea to share with prospective Ryerson students so that you can start to prepare for success now. Please enjoy the following list with suggestions on how you can improve your space:
Laptop riser, external keyboard and mouse
Ergonomics are super important when you spend a large part of your day doing schoolwork or attending classes. The way laptops are designed they can often put a strain on your neck as your neck arches down. To eliminate this, try adding a laptop raiser to keep your screen at eye level. As this will raise your keyboard as well, you will need to invest in an external keyboard and mouse. An added benefit of a laptop riser is that it raises your webcam and it makes you look great on camera while you’re in your Zoom classes.
Invest in a second screen
When classes were in person, the lecture slides would often be projected to the class, and who says you can’t create this environment in your own home? It has been a game-changer for me to have a second screen (monitor) as I can have my Zoom lectures on another screen while I focus on my note-taking on my laptop screen. As well, outside of class, it’s super helpful to have two screens so I can have my online textbook on one screen and my notes on the other. Having two screens has allowed me to complete tasks a lot faster overall as I’ve been able to save time constantly switching back and forth between tabs.
Aesthetic notebooks and pens
I don’t know about you, but aesthetically pleasing stationery makes me more excited to get to work. Consider investing in a notebook that inspires you for your class notes and pens that you enjoy watching hit the paper. Little things like this can have a positive effect on your mood while you do school work.
Sticky notes with diverse colours
I like to keep my study space full of sticky notes of a variety of colours to utilize for physical reminders on my workspace. Writing upcoming deadlines and goals for the day and sticking it to the side of my screen keeps myself accountable and ensures I don’t miss a deadline. A bonus is I feel super accomplished when I get to take a sticky note down. I also love sticky notes for physical textbooks, as I bookmark different pages and chapters with a colour-coded system to remind myself of areas that I may need to look back at for certain tests or assignments. It’s a huge time-saving mechanism as it reduces me flipping between hundreds of pages when I need to look for something in the textbook in the future.
Vision board, whiteboard and calendar behind your desk
When doing online learning, it’s important to give your eyes a break here and there and look away from your screen for 20 to 30 seconds to refresh your eyes. While staring into blank space is perfectly okay, adding some life to your walls can boost your mood while you do this. Consider using a corkboard to create a vision board or a collage of your favourite memories including souvenirs and photographs. You can also add a whiteboard where you or your roommates can write messages to yourself. To help with time management, a calendar with images that inspire you is another great option.
Hand recovery kit or stress balls
It can be hard to stay focused in online Zoom classes when there is a world of distractions at your finger-tips, and sometimes it can be hard to stay engaged. The best way to maintain focus is to write notes throughout the class, but sometimes you may just want to focus on taking in the content and not taking notes depending on the course content. If you’re like me, you may always be inclined to do something with your hands while watching a lecture, which may lead you to pick up your phone. This is truly the most dangerous distraction of all as you can tune out for five seconds and become completely lost in what the professor is teaching. To battle this, try having a stress ball or a strengthening ball from a hand recovery kit at your desk to keep your hands busy, but your mind focused on the task at hand.
These suggestions are just the tip of the iceberg when creating an amazing study space, but they can have a huge impact on your focus and academic success. I hope you’re able to implement some of these tips to your space!