7 ways to organize your study space for success
The flexibility of studying online frees you from the constraints of a physical classroom and allows you to schedule study time around work and family commitments. But all this convenience and flexibility leaves you with too many options for when, where and how to study.
Since you may not have face-to-face contact with your professor and other students, you’ll have to keep yourself on track. These organizational tips for online learning will help make sure you stay on top of everything and successfully balance your work, family and online classes.
Find a Quiet Space for Attending Class
When you are taking an online class, the classroom is wherever you are. You will want to find a place that is quiet and free from distraction, yet provides enough room for you to take notes, either on your computer or by hand. You may also need an electric outlet nearby to keep your device charged while logged in to the class.
Classes may be live or recorded, and in a live class, you may be asked to turn on your webcam or your microphone when you participate during the session. One advantage of online classes is that you can attend from the comfort of your home. However, you will want to pay attention to what other attendees and the instructor will see when your webcam is on.
Create an Effective Work Space for Studying
It can be tempting to be a little too relaxed about creating a dedicated workspace for your school work. If a potential study space is already associated with activities such as eating, watching television or sleeping, it’s probably not ideal. Instead, select an area you already associate with learning. The more time you spend in it, the stronger the association will become. Eventually, you will find yourself feeling more focused as soon as you enter the space.
If your space is limited or you can’t create a dedicated study space, store your school materials in a rolling cart, backpack, or something else easily transportable. Whenever it’s time to study, you will have everything you need already organized for a smooth transition. If you frequently find yourself needing to study or attend class away from home, make sure to keep your phone or computer charger with you so that you can remain connected.
Make sure your space is comfortable
When ensuring your study space is comfortable, one of the most important things to keep in mind is ergonomics. Both your study table and chair should allow good posture, and when you’re seated, the top of your desk should rest somewhere between your chest and rib cage. This way, you’ll be able to rest your elbows on the desktop without having to hunch your shoulders forward. Additionally, the chair should be comfortable, fit the height of the desk and allow your feet to rest flat on the floor.
Organize Your Files
Your course materials should be easily accessible whenever you need them. If you prefer working with hard copies, you can invest in a physical filing system, but online students also have the option to enjoy the ease and flexibility of working digitally. Store your computer files in folders and use descriptive names to facilitate identification.
Schedule Your Time
When you enroll in an online course, it’s vital to familiarize yourself with the syllabus, class requirements and assignment due dates to avoid unpleasant surprises down the line. Hang a calendar on the wall of your study space and fill out once you get the syllabus. Alternatively, use an online calendar and set alerts. Organizing your schedule will not only facilitate your studies but will also help you set aside time for the other elements of your life.
Stay Organized Online
Bookmark sites that you often use in your research so you don’t have to hunt them down every time you need them and try using online helpers like Quizlet, which lets you create flashcards and games that will help you study. The site also stores study aides that other students have created, so you may already be able to find what you need.
While working online is a necessity when taking a web-based class, the internet can also be a distraction. If you find yourself checking Facebook every few minutes, taking a Netflix break that never seems to end, or otherwise wasting time online when you’re supposed to be working, there are apps that can help. Try online tools like StayFocusd, which helps you restrict the amount of time you spend on these distractions.
Establish a Routine
Getting into a routine will increase the chances that you’ll stay on top of what you need to be doing, rather than letting deadlines sneak up on you. Once you have a syllabus for each class and are clear on what’s expected of you, make a study schedule for each course. Include blocks of time for regular study and reading, as well as extra time to prepare for tests and projects such as research papers.
Use an old-school paper planner if that works best for you or try a planning app like My Study App, which lets you store your schedule in the cloud so you can access it from all your devices.
Create a Support System
Enlist your friends and family to help you stay on track with your online education. Whether that’s making sure they understand your commitments and time constraints or encouraging those you live with to help out with household chores, their help and cooperation can make it easier for you to focus on your coursework.
Taking one or more online classes may seem a little isolating, but it doesn’t have to be. If you have trouble staying organized, reach out to your fellow students online – or perhaps meet in person – to help each other stay accountable.
Study groups can be an effective way of keeping yourself on track and if you need help from the professor or would like to meet in person, don’t hesitate to ask. Part of staying organized – especially with online learning – is being proactive and reaching out before you run into trouble.
Getting organized and putting some systems in place can make it easier to be successful in online classes. Try these tactics and let us know which ones help you the most!
Are you ready to go back to school and looking for online programs that fit your career goals? The University of Texas at El Paso offers a variety of 100%-online undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs. We invite you to explore our online programs and see what it will take to make that next step for your professional future. If you are interested in learning more about our team and UTEP Connect’s 100%-online programs, reach out. An enrollment counselor will contact you directly.
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