8 Steps to Designing Your Dorm- Step 5: Equip Your Study Zone.
<< Wait! Read Step 4: Get Organized, first!
Equipping your study space is going to be one of the most important things you do, because while it doesn’t really matter what your dorm room looks like in terms of academic achievement, the stuff you get for your study zone could very well have an impact on your grades.
First, you should decide what, if anything, you already own (in terms of office supplies) and plan to bring to your desk area in your dorm. Some things you want to consider are basic office supplies like pens and pencils (make sure you have some number 2 pencils for test taking), a cup to hold them in, scissors, erasers, highlighters, ect. All these things are common sense, and you have to decide what you want to bring based on your study habits and preferences.
One really important piece of furniture that people often overlook is a good quality desk chair. You are not going to want to sit for long periods of studying on those really hard, wooden desk chairs that are usually provided with the room. Even if you go for one of the cheaper, mesh backed rolling chairs from stores like Target or Walmart, it will have a padded seat and more comfortable back that will make your studying much more bearable.
Another important thing to remember is that dorm rooms have HORRIBLE lighting. Therefore, if you want to save yourself a lot of eye strain and make it much easier and more comfortable to study, invest in a desk lamp. Usually the ones that swivel or have bendable necks are best for this, because you can adjust the light’s angle (this is great if you have a roommate that goes to bed earlier than you, since you can direct the light only onto your papers/books and you don’t have to turn on the overhead florescent).
You’re also going to benefit from having either a cork board, memo board or a white board over your study area. These are fantastic for putting lists on, tacking up memos or flyers about upcoming school events, or writing reminders about when your papers or projects are due. Encourage your roomie to get one too, because then you can write notes and reminders to each other.
Additionally, I’d recommend getting a paper tray or organizer to act as an “inbox”. This can serve as a collection bin for everything that requires your attention, such as mail, school projects, or just a note that your roommate leaves for you. If you are familiar with David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” method, having an inbox is essential. If you are not, I’d highly recommend grabbing a copy from your local library and giving it a read. Developing organization and productivity skills while in college will benefit you personally and professionally for the rest of your life.
Don’t forget that you are also probably going to want to bring binders, notebooks, folders, and looseleaf paper for your classwork. Choose what works for you, and don’t overpurchase these items if you are unsure of what you will need for each class (plus, there are usually some pretty awesome clearance sales on these items in mid to late September, if you can hold out). Also keep in mind that most professors allow you to take your laptop to class and type notes, so if you would prefer this format, you probably don’t need any paper-based office supplies. You might also want to consider going paperless, or partially paperless, this semester. This is what I am attempting to do (we’ll see how well that goes, haha). Please send a message to my ask box if you are interested in finding out more about the process I intend to use to go paperless!
Since your desk is going to be pulling double duty as a place to eat, sort your mail, and deal with any of the more “grown-up” stuff that is now on your plate (like *gasp* paying bills), you may want to figure out ways to keep the surface relatively clear of stuff. Using things like 3-tier desk organizers (which you can also conveniently mount on the wall) will utilize vertical space while leaving the desk area open (I wasn’t able to find exactly what I’m talking about online, but I have a picture of one on my desk that I will post later. You should be able to find them in Walmart or Staples). You can also get stuff like a desk lamp with an organizer base for holding pens and pencils and various other office supplies, to kill two birds with one stone and save some space. If you really have a lot of office supply/study materials, you could get a rolling cart that would be stored under the desk while you’re not using it, and then rolled out next to you when you are.
Note: I was going to post some pictures of the setup I plan to use for my desk area, but my camera is not cooperating at the moment, so stay tuned for those in a later post. I’ll describe what I have set up for my study zone in that post.
TL;DR: Equipping your study zone with the proper supplies is really important! Make sure you have all of the pens, pencils, erasers, notebooks, paper, binders and those other standard office supplies that you need to work productively. Also, consider investing in a comfortable desk chair, a desk lamp, a cork/memo/white board, and an inbox. Keeping your desk clear is important so you can use the surface to eat and process paperwork, so utilize as much vertical storage as you can. I plan to post a few pictures of my desk setup soon, and I’ll let you guys know what I’m using to go paperless if you send me a message expressing your interest. Step 6 will be published tomorrow.
Next, read Step 6: Add Personal Touches >>