After nearly a year of online learning, you may feel trapped within four walls. How can you create a comfortable space to study in a student room?
How do you turn your room into the ideal study place? (Photo: Daniël Hesselman)

After nearly a year of online learning, you may feel trapped within four walls. How can you create a comfortable space to study in a student room?

Lees in het Nederlands

The boundaries between sleeping, eating, watching films and studying can blur if you live in one room anyway, let alone during the corona crisis. There is no division between study and relaxation anymore and that can have an impact on students’ well-being and productivity.

What can you do to make your room a comfortable place to study? Industrial Design Engineer master student Daniël Hesselman looked into this. His most important piece of advice was “Make sure you create a clear border between the area you study and rest of the space. You need to be able to close your working day, even if you cannot leave your room.” He has compiled into five tips from his findings that can be used in all sorts of student rooms, from small to big. 

  • Tip 1: Create a space that feels different to the rest of the room
    Hesselman says that “Research shows that we forget things more easily if we move around different spaces. If you have a student room, you can simulate this by creating a physical division between the space you study in and the rest of your room.”

    Put a bookcase between your desk and bed, or build, as he did himself, a temporary ‘wall’ using hardboard. “This is a cheap option as the whole thing costs about EUR 10.” Or use plants to create a simple ‘barrier’. If you choose plants that purify the air, you will have a healthier indoor climate too.

    A temporary wall made of hardboard. (Photo: Daniël Hesselman)

  • Tip 2: Give your workspace a different look
    “By changing your study area from the inside, you will have the feeling that you really are in a different space,” says Hesselman. “This has a positive effect on your association as you will see that space as the space where you study.” Paint your study area a different colour or use a colour-changing lamp. While studying, always put the lamp on the same colour, say blue, so that you associate this colour with studying. Another option is a rug on the floor to clearly mark your study area.

    Paint your study area a different colour (Photo: Pantip.com)

  • Tip 3: Make sure you have an ergonomic workspace
    “As it might be a while before we can go to campus full-time again, it is important that your study area is ergonomic. Even a couple of small adjustments can make a big difference,” says Hesselman. He advises using a separate keyboard and avoiding direct sunlight on the screen. Where possible, make sure that your desk, screen and chair are adjusted to your height.

    Bonus tip: TU Delft students can order accessories such as a keyboard, mouse and laptop stand

    online at a reduced rate.

    Use a separate keyboard. (Photo: Marjolein van der Veldt)

  • Tip 4: Be aware of your posture
    Your posture is the very foundation of a good workspace. It is important to change your posture during the day. You could, for example, try working standing up. “And make sure that your monitor is right in front of you so that you avoid working at an angle,” warns Hesselman.

    (Illustration: macrovector / freepik)

  • Tip 5: Take breaks
    You tend to move less if you study at home so take regular breaks away from your screen. Go outside for some fresh air, for example.
     
  • Take a stroll. (Photo: Dalia Madi)

Hesselman is currently assessing the impact of these tips on the welfare and productivity of respondents. The respondents fill in two questionnaires: one before they adapt their workspace, and one two weeks after adapting their workspace.

  • Preliminary research by Daniël Hesselman on the effect of the number of rooms on the level of work satisfaction will be published shortly in the journal Human Factors. (Working from home during COVID-19: The negative influence of single-room-houses on work satisfaction)
    Thesis supervisors G: Professor Peter Vink and Dr Derek Lomas.