Creating the Optimal Workspace for Online Learning
One of the things our students love most about our platform is that it allows them to complete their studies from anywhere – well, anywhere that has an internet connection, that is! The flexibility online learning allows for is far and away its best feature, but is studying from just anywhere really the most productive? Here are three things to keep in mind as you work towards building your optimal workspace, just in time for the crunch of exam season! 1. Separate your space First things first, the ideal workspace needs to be separated from your personal and family spaces. If you think of your home in terms of zones, you probably already have a zone for eating, one for sleeping, and one for general living; now you need one for working. When creating a learning space, it’s best not to overlap with one typically used for another purpose, as this can lead to distractions and potential conflict (like when your bratty younger sibling who’s finished all their homework comes in to watch TV at full volume). No matter the size of your space, try to set up an area with a desk, good lighting, and a comfortable chair so that you know you mean business whenever you’re there. For some students, setting up that ideal workspace within the home just isn’t possible, but that’s no reason to worry! It might take a little longer to find and establish, but once you go out and lay claim to that perfect cozy corner at your local library or neighbourhood café, you’ll be able to hit the keys in earnest. When choosing your study spot, be sure to unplug from your devices and take some time to really observe the environment for noise level and potential distractions. Yes, Starbucks can be great for a hit of java and a snack mid-unit, but the constant foot traffic will distract even the most plugged in of learners! Opt for a less mainstream café and you’ll be supporting a local business at the same time. You’ll also want to make sure that the available seating is both comfortable AND supportive (beanbag chairs and plush cushions are great for scrolling through Instagram with your midday iced-capp, but they’re significantly less great for working through a whole unit’s worth of lessons over several hours – hello, sore muscles!). 2. Determine & destroy distractions before they wreak havoc Even after you’ve gone through the process of setting up or selecting your ideal workspace, you’re still going to need to spend some time identifying distractions and deciding on a plan to get rid of them. Here are some common distracting factors and potential solutions to mitigate their effect. – Think about what’s in sight of your workspace. Even a TV that’s switched off or a street-facing window can become distracting if your heart’s not in the content. Position yourself so that your sightlines will not distract you. – Your PHONE. Yes, we love our phones; what would we do without them? But when it comes time to buckle down, turn your phone on silent, keep it out of sight and (ideally) out of reach. If you absolutely have to have it around, keep it face down and silence all social or app notifications to avoid the constant desire to check in. – Your computer itself can pose additional distractions, but they aren’t entirely unavoidable. Some good control measures include closing all non-course related tabs and turning off desktop notifications for social sites for the duration of your study session. – Finally, one of the biggest distractions is other people. Particularly when working on online courses, it can look to others as though you’re simply watching Netflix or browsing the web. Be sure to communicate with those around you and make them aware of your study habits so they don’t interrupt or distract you; establishing these kinds of respectful boundaries will allow you to create a more effective workspace. 3. Set yourself up for success – not stress! A huge part of creating a great workspace is making sure you have the right tools at your disposal. Particularly for those planning to study from outside the home, make sure to look ahead in the unit and print out any assignments you might be ready to complete that day. Many students also find investing in over-the-ear headphones to be worthwhile, due to their increased noise-cancelling features. And finally, perhaps the best way to prepare yourself for success and avoid stress (not to mention spark joy©) is to declutter your workspace! Organization is often overlooked by students looking to design functional online workspaces, simply by virtue of the fact that there are rarely any physical files to keep in order. Truthfully, saving all your files to your desktop and naming them along the lines of “Assignment FINAL – FINALFINAL” is begging for instances of mistaken uploads. If this sounds like you, spend some time sorting through your online files and organizing them in a way that makes sense for you – consider it like creating a virtual ‘filing cabinet’ that will allow you to streamline your review come exam time. In the end, having all the tools you might need at your fingertips will not only physically prepare you to tackle your lessons efficiently, it will also reduce your stress and mentally prepare you for productive learning!