So, you’ve decided to earn your online bachelor’s degree from home — congratulations! Before online classes start, it’s a good idea to get your home office in tip-top shape. A clean, orderly, and efficient workspace will up your chances of success by a large margin.
As you shop around for new supplies and useful gadgets, keep the following list of office essentials in mind.
1. A designated desk for work and study
You’d be surprised at how many people don’t have a work desk. “I’ll just work at the kitchen table,” they say. Or maybe they plan on getting things done while sitting on the couch or lying in bed.
But it’s easy to become distracted around your home.
When you have a designated work desk, you have a place you can go in your home where your mindset changes from cooking-cleaning-laundry-sleeping to work. You also have a place to store and organize your books, papers, laptop, supplies, etc.
2. A good cord management setup
Let’s face it … cords are a pain. And if you have a home office desk, you’ll have lots of them — cords for your:
- Computer charger
- Phone charger
- Fan (and more)
Even though it may seem unnecessary, organizing these cords should be a priority from the get-go. Fortunately, there are tons of ties, cord management boxes, and other gadgets out there to choose from. Select something that works well with your setup, and clean up your cord mess before it gets the better of you.
3. A comfortable, ergonomic desk chair
Sitting for long periods of time can cause back, neck, and shoulder pain. This can be exacerbated if you have an uncomfortable home office desk chair.
Aim for one with a high back and arm rests. If you need to add a pillow or back rest to give yourself more lumbar support, be sure to do so. Choose a chair that also has a lever for elevation, and elevate the seat so that you are looking straight at your screen when your chin is parallel with the floor (this may mean that you need to elevate your computer screen or laptop too).
Finally, invest in a small foot rest if your feet do not touch the floor when your chair is properly situated. Not doing so and letting your feet dangle can cause indirect strain on your lower back.
4. A keyboard pullout tray
If you can swing it a separate keyboard and keyboard pullout tray is a great investment. Most of us aren’t over six feet tall, so it’s common for our arms to have to be raised when we set our fingers on our desktop keyboard. This, in turn, causes our shoulders to rise and hunch — a huge reason why prolonged sedentary periods can cause shoulder and neck problems.
Allowing your shoulders to remain in a natural, relaxed position is best, but this means that your keyboard needs to be lower than the top of your desk and more near the tops of your thighs. A keyboard tray is the perfect solution.
Keyboard trays usually attach to the underside of your desk with screws. When you need to type, you can simply pull out the tray. Some models also have a place for a mouse pad and mouse. Another great benefit of a keyboard tray is that it allows you more space on the top of your desk for books, notepads, a coffee cup, etc.
5. Supplies and a place to put them
Certainly, you don’t have to have a wide range of office supplies to excel as a student or business owner. But do consider investing in supplies that will make your work easier. For example, make sure you have an adequate number of:
- File folders
- Sticky notes
- Page markers
You should also consider buying a stapler and staples, clear tape, a good pair of scissors, and a ruler. These are just standard items that every at-home office should have. Beyond that, make sure you have a place to put all these things. A few desk drawers are fine, or you can invest in a top-of-desk organizer for easy access.
As a final tip, make sure you maintain at least a basic organizational schedule throughout the semester. Just five minutes of “cleanup” after each class or study session can help keep your space tidier, which will make you a more disciplined and effective student.
In the end, you should undoubtedly organize your workspace in the way that works best for you as a unique individual. But there are also some undeniable links between being prepared and organized and having success while earning your online degree. We hope these tips help!
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