How to set up your home study area

If you would like to get the most from your online degree, it’s recommended that you create a study area suited for you and one that is conducive to efficient studying.

Personalising your study space is always handy as everybody is different in their style of studying. Below are some elements that you should consider if you’re looking to succeed in your studies as an online student.

The essentials

A reliable, connected laptop

All of your programme content will be delivered online, so it goes without saying that you’ll want a reliable laptop and a strong internet connection.

While it’s definitely possible to work on a desktop PC, one of the benefits of a portable device is the freedom to study wherever you are. Using a laptop will help you keep to up-to-date whilst on the go, so you won’t have to worry about falling behind whilst you travel.

Even the strongest internet connections can fail, so have a plan B at the ready – whether that is free WiFi at one of your local coffee shops or library, hotspotting your mobile data, a dongle, or even a pay-as-you-go shared office space (for example, WeWork). Just having a back-up plan can pay dividends when you’re nearing a synchronous session and suddenly you lose your internet connection. If you know what your next steps are, you’ll be re-connected in no time.

A comfortable seat

While it may sound a bit ridiculous, the chair you decide to use can have a big impact on the amount of time you spend studying in any one session. Instead of just settling for a hard-backed dining chair, try investing in something more comfortable – it could really benefit your concentration levels.

Plenty of space, in the right place

A change of scenery will help you every now and then, but having a dedicated workstation is good for keeping focused:

“I invaded half of the living room! It was my study corner for two years. I had that space and it was mine, not to be touched or cleaned up. I could have my own mess, in my own system.” Helena Feibert, Online MSc International Business graduate.

Having a traquil space can also guarantee you reach your best potential when studying. Having enough light (for example) may sound obvious, but it helps to validate any mistakes and reduces things like eye strain and headaches – so perhaps invest in a good lamp or two for evening study sessions.

Even a spacious desk with storage features where you can keep any necessary study accessories within reach can be beneficial too.

A headset

A dependable headset – or headphones with an in-built microphone – will help you communicate and stay fully connected to your lecturers and online classmates.

You can listen to lectures and group sessions from anywhere without bothering those around you and also contribute when necessary. Go for something comfortable and try to make sure it’s compatible with the computer you plan to use.

A notepad and pen

Of course you can take notes on your laptop, but nothing is as quick and easy as an old-fashioned notepad and pen – meaning you can read any notes first-hand without going through different tabs on your computer.

Recommended read: How to study and work at the same time: five top tips

It’s a good idea to have…

Backup storage

We’ve all heard the horror stories about people losing dissertations and other important work, because of file corruption or computer failures. A backup storage solution will double-check your hard work is protected. Here are a few options to consider:

  1. An external hard drive – Easy to connect via USB, you can use one of these to back up files from almost any computer – even without an internet connection. Nevertheless some laptops will require a USB adaptor.
  2. A USB flash drive – Smaller than an external hard drive, a USB stick will be more portable (though perhaps easier to lose). If you choose this option, ensure your USB has enough space for the files you will need to back up.
  3. Cloud storage – There are plenty of cloud storage services out there to contemplate, these are good because you won’t need to carry anything around with you – just take into account that you’ll need an internet connection to access your files.

If you’ve just finished working on something particularly important and want to make sure it’s safe, you could print a copy. Having a network-connected printer at home will allow you to print documents from anywhere, as long as you have an internet connection.

A laptop case or bag

Your laptop is your most important study tool, so it makes sense to keep it protected when you’re on the move.

A decent laptop case or bag should have some cushioning to defend against any collisions, while also providing enough storage features for any equipment you use to study.

A second display

If you’ve never worked with one before, a second display can boost your productivity massively. It’ll provide more space for study and reference materials so you’re not constantly switching between windows to find what you need.

A final word on comfort

Above all, your workspace needs to be comfortable. The best way to achieve that is to have an organised study space rather than something you need to tidy every time you finish studying.

Little things could benefit you, like organising your desk and having your schedule within easy access. This could have a huge effect on your productivity throughout your programme.

Studying online offers true learning flexibility and, on our online programmes, you will be supported every step of the way. Download a brochure to find out more about online learning and what it could help you to achieve.