COVID-19: Setting up your workstation for home study
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced universities to close campuses and shift to remote working and study. This has left many students wondering how to study effectively at home.
Your home workspace can have a huge impact on productivity and success when studying so it’s important to make sure it’s set up properly. If you’re struggling to study from home effectively, here are a few working from home tips to help you.
These symptoms can develop over time and are usually a result of:
- Working in a static position
- Doing repetitive movements for a long time
- Putting strain on one specific area of your body
- Working at a speed that prevents sufficient recovery between movements
As a result, there are a number of elements to think about when setting up an ergonomic workstation:
Comfortable desk and chair
Sitting at a comfortable workstation desk and chair will make sure your posture is supported and will prevent neck and backaches. This will help you to stay focused and productive.
An ergonomic chair should help you to stay sitting upright instead of slouching and will support your lower back, neck, shoulders, hips, and thighs. Sitting properly allows the oxygen to enter your muscles and increases blood flow to your brain. This will help you to stay energized throughout your study session and help you to focus.
If you’re not sure whether you have an ergonomic workstation or not, you can download a workstation assessment online to help you get set up properly. This will help you think about how you can make your desk more ergonomic and work with the furniture you’ve already got.
Where possible, choose a home workspace with plenty of natural light as this will help you to feel more alert and awake during your study session. The amount of light in your home workspace can have an impact on your productivity and wellbeing so it’s an important factor to consider.
Poor lighting can cause eye-strain, headaches, and fatigue but it can also have an impact on your stress and anxiety levels. This is particularly true if you’re under a lot of pressure to meet deadlines.
Research shows that working in a space with optimized natural light resulted in a 56% decrease in drowsiness. Being exposed to natural light at the correct times of the day will help to regulate your body’s circadian rhythm and make you feel alert throughout your study sessions. In addition, it will help you to sleep better at night, helping you to feel prepared for the next day.
Make sure you also have adequate artificial lighting for dull days or if you’re studying later in the evening.
Check your screen brightness and make sure it’s adjusted properly to avoid eyestrain and headaches. If your eyes are tired from looking at the screen, you’re unlikely to be as productive and it will be detrimental to your studies.
Prolonged computer use and not having the screen brightness at the right settings can cause computer vision syndrome. If you experience the following symptoms, it’s a good idea to check your screen:
- Difficulty focusing
- Sore or tired eyes
- Watery or dry eyes
- Neck pain
Under normal circumstances, a BYOD policy provides you with the flexibility to work anytime and anywhere you want, including:
- with friends
- at home
- in a coffee shop
- in the middle of the night
- while away from campus
However, during the current lockdown, it means you can study from home just as effectively as you’d be able to if you were on campus.
Firstly, you’ll need to ensure you have access to the relevant technology to access these resources. If you don’t have the correct technology, speak to your university’s IT support team to see if you can use university-owned devices.
Familiarise yourself with the programs, software, and resources your university uses. Not being able to log in or use the required platforms can be demotivating and will make your study sessions much less productive.
Application virtualization will allow you to access your university’s apps and software without having to download them onto your own device. This is especially useful if you need specialist apps or software to complete coursework that you can only usually use when on-campus.
Knowing how to access this resource will help you to complete your studies effectively. If you’re not sure about how or where to access it, contact your university’s tech support team.
Alongside BYOD, if your university has Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) in place, you’ll be able to access campus computers through your own device to access any apps, the local network or other resources you need.
This is perfect when you’re studying remotely and will make it as easy as possible for you to access anything you would ordinarily need to complete assignments.
It’s likely that your university will be continuing courses online so make sure you know how to access any live or recorded lectures. Being able to watch lectures will be essential to finishing your course properly and having the information you need to complete assignments. It will also help to maintain human contact that you would usually experience from university life and will help with peer-to-peer support.
Your university or faculty staff should let you know how, when, and where you’ll be able to access these lectures. Sticking to the set times will also help with your routine and add structure to each day.
Students who started in a tidy workspace spent an average of 18.5 minutes on the puzzle before giving up. On the other hand, those students who began in a cluttered workspace spend just 11 minutes on the puzzle before giving up.
A messy workspace can affect your sense of personal control which has an impact on your mental resources and means you’re unable to concentrate for extended periods of time.