When you applied to university, you probably imagined spending hours in the library surrounded by friends, or rocking up to your halls late at night and falling into bed. Chances are you’re going to be spending more time in your own room than you first thought, so it’s essential to make sure your study space works for you.
“Studying online gives you more control over where you study,” says Aidan Moloney, wellbeing service manager at the University of Law.
“It helps to consider how and where you work, the type of task and the level of concentration needed. Things to bear in mind might include, how long the study session will take, where it will be done, what resources you need, what you want to achieve, how you’ll make your goal achievable and how you’ll record your study.”
Experts suggest taking short screen breaks often, rather than longer ones less frequently. Aim to have five to 10 minutes in every hour away from your screen. Also consider ways to get the information or interaction you need without logging on – you could print off reading materials or phone a friend to test each other’s knowledge. It’s also a good idea to work no longer than six hours on-screen every day.
How your screen and desk are set up is also important. Hunching over a laptop on your bed might be OK now and again but doing so long-term could cause back and neck problems. Also think about what motivates you. “The advantage of online learning is that you literally don’t need to go anywhere, just open your laptop and go to all your lectures. But if you’re staying in bed you’ll still be in chill mode and won’t properly engage with the lesson,” advises 22-year-old University of Gloucestershire MA student Lauren Fletcher.
Studies have shown that standing desks improve health markers and even boost productivity – you can buy a cardboard version for about £20. Otherwise, try and use a separate keyboard and mouse so your laptop can be put on a stand and your screen opened at eye level, with your lower arms perpendicular to your body and your feet on the floor.
Though you want to be as productive as possible in your workspace, it’s worth remembering this is also likely to be where you relax, so fill it with things that bring you joy. Research suggests that plants may reduce psychological and physiological stress, so consider filling your room with leafy greens.