studying

How to Transform Your Home into a Work Study Area

Working from home is hardly a new phenomenon, but the COVID-19 pandemic has made it an unplanned requirement for many offices and universities alike. 

One of the first orders of business: setting up a work-from-home space that’s as functional and comfortable as possible. 

Since we’re trying to avoid going out to stores, you’ll ideally want to create this makeshift workstation using things you have around your house. The good news: You likely already have everything you need, as long as you get creative.

Follow these tips to create a home workspace that’ll make you happier and more productive.

1. Designate a Specific Study Area

One of the keys to successfully working at home (whether professionally or academically) – aside from self-discipline and a strong Wi-Fi connection – is having a comfortable, convenient workspace. And no, the couch doesn’t count! 

Working from home, it’s easy to get distracted by clutter, home responsibilities, pets, children and more. When creating your workspace, consider what type of environment you work best in. Do you need total privacy? Background noise? It’s a good idea to define what kind of things may distract you, so you can eliminate them. 

  • If available, choose a separate room for your workspace, with good lighting and easy access. Then you can close the door to keep your work in and family, friends, and pets out.
  • Pick a room or other space where you can minimize distractions, far away from the kitchen, laundry room, and television noises.
  • Select a workspace that is large enough to complete your work. Working from two or three separate areas of the home is far less productive than working from one designated area.

Studies have demonstrated that noisy classrooms can be detrimental to student focus, engagement, memory, and overall learning. The same applies to noisy working spaces at home. The quieter the space, the better optimized it is for learning. If you’re sharing a space, a pair of noise-canceling headphones will help block out distractions and keep you in the zone. 

2. Plan Your Workspace

If you take the time to plan your workspace in advance of actually setting it up, you will maximize your chance of putting together the most productive, functional, and visually appealing workspace at the lowest cost. 

There are five study room essentials you’ll need to work well from home:

  1. Access to natural light
  2. A comfortable temperature
  3. Good air quality
  4. Comfortable furniture
  5. Strategy for minimizing distractions

It doesn’t matter if you are sitting at a proper office desk or your makeshift office in the corner of your living room – how you sit and position your computer is important.

Ergonomics, the study of the correct positioning of your body while at rest or work, plays an important role in ensuring comfort and maintaining good physical health long term. When setting up your home workspace, you’ll want to make sure that it is ergonomically correct.

Your space needs a desk or table that is at work height. You’ll know your work surface is at the correct height if, when you sit up straight, your forearms are parallel to the ground and your wrist is not bent up or down when you type or use the mouse.

Use the ergotron workspace planner to help you set up your workspace. This tool will tell you exactly where to keep your monitor, keyboard, chair and desk based on your height.

3. Get Connected

Make sure your workspace is conveniently located near a power outlet. 

If you’re going to be doing a lot of video calls, test out a mock call in your new workspace to see how it looks. A plain wall that isn’t too distracting is a good backdrop, and proper lighting will make the video quality better. While you’re at it, test out the WiFi signal in that area of the house to make sure it is strong.

You’ll be doing a lot of charging throughout the day – phones, laptops, iPads, headphones, and every other device you own. Keep things organized and avoid overwhelming all of your outlets and floor space by getting a work-only power strip. It makes it easier to keep all your tech organized, charged, and close by.

4. Get Organized

Make sure you have all the materials you need for working or studying close at hand, so you don’t waste time fumbling around for your textbooks or ruler. Keep classic school supplies like pens or pencils, erasers, paper, notecards, highlighters, and so on in assigned areas on the desk or in a drawer.

Stocking Your Space with Supplies

Here are four essentials to keep close by in your study space:

  1. Traditional Calculator
  2. Pocket Dictionary
  3. Thesaurus
  4. Notepads

Even though your phone can probably do all four using your phone, it’s an open invitation to distraction by the million other things you can do on it.

Make use of the desk drawers to keep things you need close by but not spread out all over the desktop. If you don’t have enough (or any) drawers, use boxes, small crates, etc. that you can stack on or below the desktop of your study area. You can also organize assignments and notes by using bulletin boards, cork tiles, and wall calendars.

Too much clutter around your desk can leave you feeling overwhelmed and stressed out. It’s a good idea to take short breaks throughout the day anyway, so when you do, take a moment to tidy up your workspace before resuming. Keep only what you need at that time in front of you; A cluttered workspace can lead to a cluttered mind.

5. Make Your Space Comfortable

Turn your work area into a place you love. Invest in a supportive, ergonomically correct chair and position your computer to eye-level. Consider a desk that is a proper height and provides ample space for your computer, keyboard, monitors, etc. Don’t have a lot of room? That’s ok – here’s 21 Desk Ideas Perfect for Small Spaces.

The most effective learning spaces are those that are well-lit. Natural light and other sources of blue light are shown to increase productivity, alertness, and focus. 

To reduce eyestrain, you’ll want to set up sufficient lighting in your workspace. Choosing a sunny spot near a window helps. If you need to supplement overhead lighting, consider borrowing a floor lamp or table lamp from another room to create a well-lit desk.

Other options include: brightening your space with greenery, hanging a favorite piece of art, setting up speakers, or bringing in a fan or small space heater. Your work area sets the mood for getting things done, so you want to make it a comfortable, inspiring space. Looking for more ideas? Check out this blog post on How to Create a Great Study Space.

Here’s a tip: DON’T work from your bed or couch.

You want to be comfortable, but not so comfortable that you lose focus or fall asleep. It may sound cozy, but if at all possible, it’s best to avoid working in your bed. Otherwise, you’ll begin to associate your bed with work and may have trouble falling asleep at night.

Due to the lack of structure when working from home, it’s easy for work life and home life to start overlapping – and that’s one thing you want to avoid as much as possible. Even in a small home, try to create a workspace that’s separate from your relaxation zone to create some mental distance. 

In a time where it’s easy to lose motivation, connection and certainty, look to ways to bring joy into the home. Using creativity to brighten your space, interacting with others virtually and maintaining positive energy can have a lasting impact. A friendly smile is just as encouraging on your screen as it is in your office hallway or classroom. 

Be sure to connect with us @ecampusdotcom on Twitter, Instagram, & Facebook for more resources, tips, and some great giveaways! And when it’s time for textbooks, eCampus.com has you covered for all your course material needs at savings up to 90%! 

5 Ways to Survive the Stress of College

College is the best of times and the worst of times. Close friends, bad food, and memories to last a lifetime. College is also a ton of work whether it is yet another essay, pages of homework, or staying up all night finishing a group assignment that you have not started until that night, the workload is more than enough to cause stress. Here are five easy and helpful tips to see next semester with gratitude instead of attitude.

Organize and Plan

Keeping everything clean and easy to find is a simple way to experience less stress. Buy a binder or folders to keep the classes separate and to have a central location to put all of the papers. It also may be worthwhile to buy a planner or to use the calendar on your phone to remind you of assignments. Find what works best for you and invest in organizing yourself. Same goes with your computer. Create folders on your computer to have a location to save to when you are working on something digital. No more putting everything in your downloads and searching for the date modified instead of the arbitrary title you named it.

Studying can be boring and monotonous at times but try different studying methods to boost your morale. The Pomodoro Technique is the one I use which is to put a timer for 25 minutes and with zero distractions, you start your work. Go at your own pace but make sure you have everything on do not disturb so nothing will tempt you to sway away from work. After the timer goes off, you have five minutes to do what ever you need to do and then set another 25 minutes to work. This allows you to be efficient with the time you are offering yourself and still have some time for cat videos.

For your own mental sanity, set aside time to work and play every day. Have a goal in mind and when that is complete, go reward yourself with doing something you love. Psychologically, a reward system to finishing work provides the great benefits and little residual damage from the labor.

Exercise

Getting the heart pumping can be a great way to relieve stress when college has you down. Going for a run, lifting weights, or dancing for a period of time can help to reset your mind and body to attack the day with relentless optimism. Not to mention it regulates your sleep cycle, metabolism and energy. Would it not be great if you did not have to drink four cups of coffee throughout the day? Exercise may just be the answer you are looking for to obtain more energy for your day.

Meditation

Simply breathing can make a world of difference for your mindset. Meditating every day can provide positive benefits such as an increase in happiness, self-awareness, and concentration. It also decreases stress, anxiety, and aging. “Meditation is mind without agitation,” Narasimhan says. When it comes to stress, we could all use a mind without unnecessary turbulence. Reminding yourself what your purpose is and aligning your values through breathing often can make your motivation unstoppable.

If you do not have time for simple meditation, get credit for it. Most Universities have stress management courses offered in their curriculum. The class is an easy three elective credits and truly does assist you in your college journey. Look for it under the social work category of classes.

GET MORE SLEEP

I know this sounds a little counter-intuitive. Getting less time to do more work? Sleep holds amazing benefits that we have grown to forget. The simple method here is to be more productive, sleep more. When we lack sleep, our quality of work decreases. You may be doing a lot of work but probably not a lot of quality work. There are serious health problems with sleep deprivation such as trouble concentrating, high blood pressure, risk for diabetes, risk of heart disease, weakened immunity, and weight gain. Basically throwing all the benefits of meditation and exercise away because you are not sleeping enough. Take the time needed each night and get a full eight hours (or as close to as you can) of sleep. Tiredness is not a trophy and it is something we should not be striving for.

Do Something Creative

This one is easy. Every person has their form of art be it painting, drawing, playing an instrument, cooking, or underwater basket weaving. Setting time aside every day to mastering your craft is a fun way to relieve stress and increase overall well-being. According to a 2016 study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology, engaging in just one creative activity each day can make you more likely to feel “energetic, enthusiastic, [and] excited.” It goes on to say, “Overall, these findings support the emerging emphasis on everyday creativity as a means of cultivating positive psychological functioning.” There you go, science has now supported the idea of creating art for clear benefits. Get working and create something beautiful.

College is an adventurous odyssey filled with self-discovery and a metric ton of ramen noodles. It is a lot of seemingly unnecessary work and stress but it is all worth it in the end. Hopefully with these simple methods of stress management, college will be more of a positive experience.

5 Tips to Get You Through College Finals

college finals

1. Find a Study Group

Finding a study group is especially important if you have not been paying attention in class.  I suggest you find a group of people who will help you review and understand an entire semester’s worth of information. Combining notes and study strategies can be very effective. If you don’t already make friends in class, you should start early. The more diverse your study group, the better!

2. Create a Google Doc

Your class will LOVE you if you give out a Google Doc or other shared drive study guide to help your whole class receive a good grade on the final. You can also sell it to a group for a small fee. Might as well get paid for your hard work!Brownie points (and extra studying) if you complete the whole study guide yourself and then share it.

3. Take a Movie Break

Make plans during finals week, on a lighter day (or after a heavy day) of finals to watch a movie with a friend. A movie break is a good way to recharge and make sure you are getting some relaxation during finals week! Bonus if you pick a comedy. Laughing is free medicine!

4. Complete Your Notes

Before finals week, you should go through your notes and see if there are any lectures that you have missed and find a classmate who did show up.  TIP: Try incentivizing them by offering to buy them a coffee if they will meet up and let you copy the missed notes.

5. Ask About The Format

Knowing what the final will look like (especially if you haven’t had an exam in the class) will help shape how you study for each exam. This information can also provide vital information about what to and not to study for the exam. Ask your professor. Some professors will give you more information than others but you won’t know until you ask!

Good luck with your studies!

Top 5 Reasons to Study Abroad

During your time in college, you may have an opportunity to study at an institution in another country. Many college students partake in this opportunity, as it can be a life changing experience. Here are some of the top reasons to study abroad:

1. New Way of Learning

You may have a 4.0 GPA at your home institution, but wouldn’t it be great to step outside of your old familiar classrooms and libraries? Studying abroad can offer a fantastic opportunity to continue your studies in an environment that is completely new and fresh.

Studying Abroadimage source

2. Travel

Once you graduate college and have a full time job, you may not have the opportunity to spend a few weeks or months in a foreign country. Take this time to travel while you have minimal responsibilities elsewhere.

Study abroadimage source

3. Interact with other cultures

Everyone does not have the opportunity to interact and make friends with people from other countries. Studying abroad could give you the chance to see what college life is like in a country that is unfamiliar to you.

Global Friendshipsimage source

4. Expand your world perspective

It’s easy to get comfortable in your own mindset and cultures, but traveling internationally can give you a fresh perspective on the world, your life, and how it all fits together. The world will seem much smaller when you realize that we all have much more in common than we think!

Travel the Worldimage source

5. Learn a new language

Studying abroad can be especially beneficial to those studying linguistics or who wish to learn another language fluently. No amount of textbook studying can compare to one-on-one conversation with a native speaker of the language you are studying.

Learning New Languagesimage source

Have you studied abroad? What were your reasons? Let us know in the comments below!

How to Conquer College Finals Week

With the semester nearing an end, finals week is quickly approaching! Wait what?! Where has all the time gone? Here is my list of the 3 biggest distractions during finals week and my expert advice on how to conquer them.

finals week - meme

Distraction 1: Your Phone

We all love our phones because they are able to connect us with the world and let us know what’s happening around us at all times. The problem is that with so many social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr, Yik Yak, StumbleUpon to check, it can take hours to get updated. Even games on your phone are a terrible idea during finals week, you might as well say good bye to that G.P.A. if you have any games like Tetris on your phone.

finals week Tetris

HOW TO CONQUER:  Get a friend to change your passwords during finals week! Make them promise not to tell you the passwords until after finals, not matter how many times you beg. This way after finals you can take as long as you like to get caught up on life. You should also check out the eCampus.com social media sites for coupons, contests and blog posts for college students. 

Distraction 2: Your Friends

Friends or “study buddies” are great to hang out with when you have nothing to do. In fact, they are a ton of fun… but maybe not the best influencers during finals week. You always have that one friend who only has one easy final so they become the biggest distraction you could imagine.

finals week minions

HOW TO CONQUER: The best strategy for this is to start studying early and give yourself enough time to do what you have to do. Take some time for yourself to get the majority of your work and studying done ALONE. Afterward, you can meet up with your friends to take a break at Starbucks.

Distraction 3: The Internet

Without social media on your phone,  you now have your study breaks with friends under control. However, the one thing harder to avoid is the World Wide Web. It’s always so tempting to get on YouTube and watch goofy cat videos for hours. This one below is hilarious but definitely not what you need during finals week.

 

HOW TO CONQUER: Approach looking up random websites, online shopping and watching funny videos by a reward system. You study for 3 hours and then you get rewarded with an hour internet break. This way you’ll be able to get through your studying much faster but don’t forget to retain the information otherwise this reward system doesn’t work.

HAPPY FINALS WEEK. MAY THE GRADES BE EVER IN YOUR FAVOR.