Illustration Credit: Amal Khan, Illustration Editor
Tips to encourage productivity as we navigate this strange online school year.
Katelyn Minacs, The Mike Contributor
As the 2020-2021 school year kicks off, students are finding themselves in a unique situation: the majority of us are stuck at home due to COVID-19 measures and are receiving our education via Zoom calls. Walking from one class to another; stopping at dorm rooms and libraries are no more. Circumstances has made us become a bit desk-bound right now and so, more now than ever perhaps, creating an ideal study space at home is a top priority. This article will give you a few tips on how to do just that, in hopes that the perfect study space will help make the online learning experience a little bit more tolerable.
While working from home, you first need to scout out a location. If possible, find an area in your house that is relatively quiet. If you can not afford the luxury of a quiet house, pop in a pair of headphones and put on some music that helps you focus. Many people already have a desk set up in their room, ready to go.
However, if you are like me and cannot concentrate in your bedroom all day, or maybe you do not have a desk in your room, a kitchen table will do the trick. Any stable surface you can write on will work. I recommend trying to keep this space organized because first, your brain will be able to focus more on the task at hand rather than the clutter scattered around you. Second, I find that the more organized my space is, the more appealing my environment is. Give yourself more space by using a letter holder for your notebooks and loose papers. Try placing your writing utensils in a cup or pencil case instead of leaving them sprawled out on your desk. Along those same lines, have the items you will need for studying out so that looking for the materials will not cut back on your actual study time.
Additionally, keep in mind that natural lighting is extremely beneficial for your mental health and overall productivity, so consider this factor when you are deciding on a location for your study space. Alternatively, if exposure to natural lighting is not possible for your study space, make use of a desk lamp. It will not provide the same exact benefits as natural lighting, but it will help brighten up your space and make reading more functional!
This next tip has significantly helped me boost my productivity: try and select a space that you will only, or mostly, associate with studying. By doing this, you are making things easier for yourself. When you sit down to work, your brain will associate that space with work, and as a result, you will be more productive. In order to achieve this, you will need to put your phone away. Turn it off. Keep it out of sight and out of mind. I know it is difficult but, ease yourself into this new habit by doing 25 minutes of work with no phone before affording yourself five minutes of rest on your phone. It is important, though, that you do not take this break sitting down at your study space. Remember: you want to associate your work space with studying as much as possible. Make the most of those intervals of 25 minutes of intense work and five minutes of rest by staying hydrated. Always keep a glass of water nearby; do not neglect the importance of hydration!
Now, the study space itself is important, but if you want to increase your productivity, you need to take care of your mind, your body, and the way you function on a day-to-day basis. It is advised that you move five to ten minutes every hour to keep your mind fresh after sitting down for a long period of time. Also, keep in mind the importance of comfort. Finding the right chair to support your back can be vital to keeping you productive in some cases. You should also take breaks to eat and refresh. Most importantly, get enough sleep!!! Take measures to ensure that your Circadian Rhythm — which is your internal clock that regulates your sleep and wake cycle — is in line. This is vital, as a disruption of this has been shown to lead to sluggish thinking and even poor decision making. Your mental health is important, so please take care of yourself and reach out for help if you feel like you need it. I hope that this school year, though it is out of the ordinary compared to what we usually experience, is good for everyone. Have fun setting up your study space and take care of yourself.