How to Create the Perfect Workspace for Online Learning
One of the great things about online learning is the ability to do it pretty much anytime and anywhere. No more having to uproot your life to move to a new city for college. No more having to sit in a dedicated classroom during prescheduled meeting times. Instead, students in an online college degree program can learn when and where it works best for them.
So does that mean that your learning environment – where you sit down to do your actual classwork – doesn't matter at all? Hardly.
While online learning opens up a world of freedom and flexibility, there are still some basic truths that apply when it comes to getting work done. The way your workspace is set up can have a profound impact on your productivity. While this idea is not foreign to the designers of commercial office environments, the fact is the basic principles apply just as equally to any space – particularly if computers are involved – where the objective is to sit and get things done.
Think of the workspace you use for online learning as being your own personal home office. From a physical perspective – the items needed, the positioning of your body, the tools you interact with – the setup and requirements are nearly identical. Do you already have or have been meaning to set up a home office that you use for a job? Great – now it can pull double duty! Keep in mind the following best practices to help keep your focus and productivity high as you're hitting the books.
Cut the Clutter
One of first and easiest things you'll want to take care of is to keep your work and study space free of unnecessary clutter. A messy, cluttered desk can be a source of distractions, while also physically getting in the way of books, papers, and other learning tools you'll need to use. Instead of random junk, try decorating your desk with a few items that are designed to help you relax or inspire you – these can actually have a productivity-boosting effect rather than dragging it down.
When it comes to lighting, natural light is best. Keep your blinds and curtains open during the day, and at night, try to keep your workspace well lit. Dark and dreary spaces can be the enemy of alertness.
Comfort is Key
Posture and comfort at your desk are important. It's hard to stay focused if you're constantly shifting and aching from a bad workspace. Invest in a quality office chair or use padding to keep your seat comfortable. For optimum neck comfort, keep your computer screen at eye level. Don't forget to stretch periodically to keep your back limber.
Comfort is also influenced by the temperature of the room. While this one does come down a bit to personal preference, the key is to never feel too hot or too cold. Don't just sit there and suffer; rather, try and make sure your environment is calibrated to your liking. If anything, you might consider making sure things lean just a little to the warm side, as some research suggests a slightly warmer temperature can have a positive effect on output.
Workspace designers and productivity researchers will tell you the influences don't stop here. Everything from scent and noise to room color and curvature have been shown to have an effect on output.
Keep these hints in mind as you optimize your personal learning space. The results may surprise you – and your GPA may thank you!
Written by Ashford University staff