How to Establish an Effective Workspace for Your Online Classes

By Victoria Robertson on August 9, 2017

Taking online classes, whether your degree is online or not, can be a bit challenging in terms of staying organized, as there is nobody there to hold your hand through the program. With most online courses, you are responsible for all aspects, including reading through the material, completing assignments on time, and assessing feedback.

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While this is similar to the way in-person classes are run, online courses require a lot more in terms of time management from you, whereas in person your professor is physically available to speak to and help answer your questions.

For this reason, your workspace needs to be accommodating to the online atmosphere through which you are taking courses.

So, to better assist you in doing so, below are five tips to consider when establishing a workspace fit for your online coursework demands.

1. Make it comfortable

Many students opt for the standard desk and desk chair, and for some, that’s perfect. For others, sitting like that for more than 30 minutes at a time gets tedious and, before long, they’ve begun sitting on the couch.

You do want to be comfortable, but you also don’t want to lay in bed or sit in your common area, as you won’t be able to step away from your work and unwind this way, which can stress you out and potentially overwhelm you.

Therefore, you should opt for the traditional desk and pick a chair that’s comfortable enough that you won’t mind sitting there for long periods of time, but not so comfortable that you’re likely to fall asleep or zone out. Also, make sure this space is strictly used for homework to provide that little dose of separation between your coursework and your life outside of school.

2. Be organized

You want this space to be reflective of how you would like your classroom experience to be. You should keep a calendar around to mark down due dates, utilize a dry erase board to keep track of your assignments and keep plenty of office supplies on hand for when you need them.

The more organized you are, the better, so keep things around that work well for you. Try new things, keep what works and throw out what doesn’t. It’s very easy to fall behind in coursework this way, so be sure that you’re keeping an eye on those due dates and staying on top of those assignments before they stack up and become overwhelming.

3. Pick a secluded location

You don’t want to be in an area where distraction is going to be an issue. For instance, you don’t want to be in any form of community space where your roommates may come in and want to talk for a few minutes, or where there’s a TV that someone might turn on.

You want to pick a location that’s out of the way, that way there’s no temptation or distractions that can prevent you from working. If you need a break, step out and spend some time in communal areas, but until then, stay by yourself and keep your head down to get some work done.

4. Put away the phone

Unless immediately necessary to any assignments you have (which, chances are, it’s not), do not keep your phone by your workspace. Phones are a much bigger distraction than you may think, and you’ll be tempted to use it if it’s within reach.

Your best bet is to put the phone across the room and not to look at it until you’re finished working. If you need it to keep track of time, set timers for yourself so you don’t have to pick it up and check it constantly to get the time.

The same rule goes for the internet on your laptop — turn off your Wi-Fi unless you absolutely need it, and if you need it, avoid venturing to any other sites than those you need for your work.

5. Personalize it

While less important in terms of the items discussed here, personalizing your workspace gives you a little dose of calmness while you work. Some individuals put incense/candles on their desk to relax them, others like to keep a picture or memento on the desk that makes them feel better.

No matter what you do with your personalization, just make sure it’s not an item that’s going to be distracting, but rather, one that’s going to calm you down and keep you focused enough to finish your work while you’re there.

Again, taking online courses may seem convenient in that you don’t need to leave the comfort of your home/apartment/dorm, but in reality, they take a lot more work than a normal class and above-average organizational skills to stay on top of it all.

So to help you manage your time more effectively, follow these steps to create a workspace that not only works for you, but that makes it easier for you to stay on top of your coursework without distraction.

Good luck!

Victoria is a dedicated writer who graduated from the University of Illinois with a Bachelor of Arts in English. She currently writes freelance pieces for various sites and works in Marketing for Myndbee Inc., promoting their current mobile app, Picpal.

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