Taking an online course will offer you a great amount of flexibility because you can do your work from virtually anywhere. However, you will be most productive if you spend some time planning your workspace before getting started with your online course.
To create an atmosphere that will motivate you to do your best work, one of the first steps you should take is separating your personal space from your workspace. For some, this will mean identifying a space outside of the home. You will want one fairly free from noise and distractions, though, so if you choose to work outside the home, a location like a library is a good choice.
If you like to work from the comfort of your home, you can still create separation. Think of your home in terms of zones: you probably already have a zone for dining, one for sleeping, and one for entertainment. Now you need one for work. It’s best not to overlap with a zone typically used for another purpose, as this can introduce distractions. No matter the size of your space, try to set up an area with a desk, good lighting, and a comfortable chair so that you know it’s time to work when you are in that area.
Identify and Mitigate Distractions
Even if you have painstakingly chosen or set up a workspace, you should next spend some time identifying and coming up with a plan to mitigate distractions.
Think about what is in sight of your workspace. You may not want to be in sight of a television, even if it’s off, or a window if you know these may be distractions for you. A cell phone is another common distraction for many students. When it’s time to work, it may be best to leave your cell phone in another area if you are at home or away in your bag if you are working somewhere else. If you must have it out, it is a good idea to flip it face down so that you are not constantly distracted by notifications.
Also keep in mind that your computer or laptop itself may pose additional distractions. Thus, in planning your workspace, decide ahead of time not have any open tabs in your browser that are for websites or social media not related to your coursework. This will also help you keep your personal space and workspace separate.
One last common distraction is other people. If you find it hard to study around friends, family, or roommates, you may need to reevaluate your workspace and choose a location with fewer distractions. If you can’t change locations, make sure to talk to those who share your space and let them know when you will be working on your online course. If you establish this boundary and help control for those types of distractions, you will have a more effective workspace.
Gather Needed Technology
Part of having a good workspace is also making sure you have the right tools and that they are set up to maximize your efficiency. Plan out the tools you will need, such as a desktop computer or laptop, webcam, microphone, and printer. Make sure you have all of these tools on hand and properly set up before you begin your online course. You will not only be prepared but also less stressed if you know everything is in proper working order and easily accessible.
Utilize Organizational Tools
Another aspect of establishing a good workspace is finding organizational tools that will not only increase your productivity but help you streamline your space into one that is easier to work in. Whether you choose to use a metal filing cabinet with color-coded folders or an online file storage system, spend some time looking at the types of files you have and the best way to organize them to make your work efficient and keep your desk clear.
Flexibility is one of the most appealing aspects of online courses. To get the most out of that flexibility, spend some initial time engaging in some self-reflection to create a workspace that will maximize your productivity. The time and effort you spend planning and organizing your space will pay off when you have a great online course experience!