As a grad student who is potentially also juggling full-time work and family obligations, needing a “room of your own,” to paraphrase Virginia Woolf, can be vital to your school and/or work success. A space specifically designated for your work, writing, and studying can help you stay organized and provide the space you need to stay on track and manage your research and projects. Especially if you’re working from home or doing an online-only or low-residency program, it can be easy to stray from a schedule and slack on work if you’re used to just working from the couch or bed. An organized home office can help create the feel of a regular office, giving you the nudge you might need to get cracking on that work!
- Create a designated, defined space for your workspace. You don’t have to have a separate office with a door that closes. Even if you have a corner of your room, create boundaries for your space. Whether it’s a bookcase, piece of furniture, carpet, or something else, having clearly defined boundaries for your space will help with organization and separation. This is especially important for small spaces. This is a space only for work. When you have work to do, try to only do it in this space. This will help create a work state-of-mind, and when it’s time to unplug, the rest of your space will be more relaxing. Tell your roommates, partner, or kids that this is your workspace, and it’s important to respect it as such.
- Make it yours. Put up inspiring quotes, pictures of things you love or people you admire, or academic inspiration. If you’re into aromatherapy, add a candle or incense. Put up shelves or make space for books like your style guide, reference materials, and other important texts. You’ll be spending a lot of time in this space, so make it a place you love.
- Make sure you have the necessities: trash can; folders with an organizer (or a file folder organization kit); external hard drive; supplies like sticky notes, stapler, binder clips, sticky flags, highlighters, and pens/pencils; and access to wifi. Sometimes being too far from a wireless router can slow down your internet, so make sure your router is close enough to be effective.
- Choose a comfortable chair. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it needs to be comfortable. It’s hard to focus or work for a long period of time if your butt and back are nagging you because of bad ergonomics.
- Have a backup. It’s great to have a home office or workspace. In fact, it’s pretty much a necessity while in grad school, or especially if you’re juggling work and school and are allowed to work from home at all for your job. But sometimes, a home workspace just won’t cut it – if your children have friends over and are noisy, if your roommate is having a party, or if you’re having repairs done, and so forth. Make sure you have a backup workspace you can utilize in an emergency, or even if you need a change of scenery. Find out ahead of time if they have wifi, lots of available outlets, whether it’s easily accessible and a quiet place, etc. Libraries, shared workspaces, bookstores, cafes, and community centers are all possible workspaces. Find at least one near you to keep as an option for when your home workspace needs a break.
We know you’ve worked hard, wherever you’ve found your space. If you’re struggling with formatting issues, want a second pair of eyes on your work for line editing or copy editing, or need assistance with data analysis, contact us today! We’d be happy to take a look at what you’re working on and provide you with an individualized assessment detailing how we can help.