Since everything we do revolves around sitting at a desk with a computer, it’s imperative to make a workspace efficient. One should treat their workspace like a sacred area — all sorts of distractions can drag out the simplest of tasks. To better navigate a world of online responsibilities, here are four simple changes you can make that will improve productivity and motivation.

A cluttered room is a cluttered mind

Make it a habit to clean your desk regularly and free your space of  items that can easily be shelved or organized. Muji, a Japanese company that promotes minimalist furnishing, sells simple storage organizers for desk supplies and enhances your desk area. 

Be wary of an unmade bed, too. Untidy bed sheets are definitely a temptation to abandon school responsibilities and jump into warm covers. A generally clean room maintains a level of professionality as a virtual college student. 

Whether or not you choose to invest in organization furnishing, it’s smart to routinely clean before beginning work, so that by the time you start, it’ll feel like you accomplished something already.

Invest in Quality Furnishing

One of the challenges of studying for long periods is the strain it can have on our bodies. Nobody likes the dry eyes that come with inadequate lighting or the back pain from constantly bending over a laptop. Workspace ergonomics are essential to avoiding major finger, back and neck pain. 

Amazon has a variety of well-priced options for low-back swivel chairs. If you’re easily distracted by the opportunity to spin on a swivel chair, a memory foam stationary desk chair offers an extra cushion to reduce the discomfort from sitting still for long periods of time. As long as the chair supports your spine and feet, is comfortable to sit in for hours and is a desirable height so that you’re not bending over your computer, furnishing options are endless.

Play with your phone, at scheduled time

It can be difficult to resist your cellphone when you need to get something done, so compromise rather than suppressing the urge to check the latest notification. For any given task, incorporate five to 10-minute breaks at set times to check your phone and take a breather. To do this, schedule a block of time out of the day to perform a task and divide it up by implementing two

Studying will feel better than ever after making a few simple changes to your workspace (The Emory Wheel/Josh Kim)

to three breaks at reasonable intervals. For example, if you want to study for two hours, incorporate a break after 40 minutes of studying. This not only helps you decompress, but it also brings your focus back to the task at hand when your short break is over.

You can also try out the Pomodoro technique, another method that encourages the body’s mental and metabolic systems to get a refresher during long periods of studying. It requires that for every 25 minutes of sitting, you move around for at least five minutes. 

Standing up to stretch or walk can prevent wearing down the body over time. Either method is designed to help you better focus while studying, so have fun with it and see which one works best for you. Combine the two methods and create a customized study workout routine that adds variety into your study breaks. 

Plan Ahead 

Bullet journals, mobile apps like mystudylife and whiteboards are all easy ways to keep track of appointments and assignments. Mystudylife is a great option if you’re looking for a free, ergonomic alternative to Google Calendar because the website’s simple design makes it easy to customize schedules and track each assignment’s progress. If you haven’t already, get an agenda so that you don’t have to memorize every task or keep checking the Canvas course page every few hours in fear of missing a due date. Write important dates in a planner and let it do the worrying for you. 


These four simple changes can drastically improve study habits and comfort at your desk. Experiment with each and see which improve your productivity the most. For me, using a digital planner  and dedicating time for my phone work best.  As you study, have fun trying different ways to improve your experience, and with time, you’ll feel more in tune with your time management than ever before.