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“Nostalgia” by Alaka Deshpande

“I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them,” goes the quote by Andy Bernard from The Office, a quote that seems to resonate with everyone. Nostalgia is such a powerful feeling: we all reflect on and relive the happiest moments of our past in our minds. We evoke a warm, happy feeling with just a hint of sadness while we yearn to be back in that moment, knowing that it has passed.

Nostalgia is especially powerful under our current circumstances, when life looks much different than it used to before. It feels like our lives have been stripped away of so many things that they used to be full of: the busy and bustling long days on campus full of classes and club meetings, dining hall dinners, and late nights with friends. These have all been reduced down to long days alone in my room, taking Zoom classes from my bed.  Continue reading

“Refreshing Your Work Space for School at Home” by Abhigna Rao

Over the past few weeks, the word “homeschool” has taken on an entirely new meaning for all of us. And one of the most common complaints that I have heard from friends, colleagues, residents, and everyone in between is dealing with the lack of motivation to do work and decreasing productivity with each passing day. 

For many of us, being on campus and surrounded by fellow driven students played an enormous factor in our own levels of productivity and efficiency at completing assignments. Now, without classes or RSO meetings to walk across the Green for, meeting up with friends for dinner at CR, or reviewing action potentials with study groups in lounges, it is safe to say that our learning experience has become much more sedentary than some us would like. 

Well, fear not! I may have a few ideas for livening up your work area so that you can feel more inspired and focused on a daily basis. No matter what your study strategy or work ethic is, the one factor that has a huge influence on our working style is your environment. At school, that space might be in a Redding lounge, or the Perkins Scrounge, the library, or even out on Harrington Beach. What is it now? A desk? The dining table? In bed underneath a fuzzy blanket?

Whether your room or study space is in need of a massive makeover or just bit of sprucing up here and there, below you will find a variety of ways in which you can achieve your ideal work environment. I hope that some of these help you with cleaning up your work area and in turn, helping you with achieving a space where you find it easy to focus on school work and be productive every day!

Big Change: Play with Paint

As previously mentioned, the atmosphere you work in plays a huge role in influencing your mood, as well as how often you might get distracted. This includes the colors and objects that you are surrounded by for long periods of time in a day. That’s why applying a fresh coat of paint to the walls in the room you work in might be a great step towards a healthy study environment. Colors that tend to work best for focus are cool, muted, and earthy tones. These include, white, off-white, creams, beige, taupe, greens, blues, and grays. You can even coordinate bedding and curtains to create a more cohesive theme — be creative with it and express your style! 

Little Tweak: Wall Embellishments 

If you already love your walls or want to keep them the way they are, that’s great! In that case, here are a few little things you can add to your walls that might help with getting motivated or achieving a positive headspace when it’s time to get down to business:

  • Whiteboards: great for to-do lists and writing out crazy schedules.
  • Bulletin Boards: pin up reminders, photos, everything in between.
  • Calendars: having your calendar on a wall clears up desk space.
  • Photos & Polaroids: collages are always a mood booster!
  • Recognition: medals and certificates can make great wall centerpieces.
  • Wall Decals: these can be images, patterns, or motivational quotes.
  • Posters: for places you want to go and people you want to meet.
  • Supplies Organizer: a hanging organizer can leave more room on your desk as well.
  • Easy Crafts: paper fans, tissue flowers, dreamcatchers…endless possibilities!
  • Mirrors: these will reflect natural light and make a room feel much bigger than it really is.

Big Change: Repurpose Your Furniture

Sitting upright in a chair for hours of Zoom calls and writing essays on Canvas can certainly get achy, so I am a big fan of alternate seating arrangements! But instead of purchasing new furniture, try to spruce up work space with other options. If you have some time on your hands, here are some DIY ideas:

  • Make a giant floor pillow.
  • Paint a wooden stool to turn it into a bedside table.
  • A crate or box + fiber fill or foam + any fabric = a great reading bench.
  • Rugs make the world a better place. 

Little Tweak: Accessorize, Accessorize!

In my opinion, some of the coolest visuals in any space come from neutral, minimalistic backdrops with whimsical pieces that will catch your eye. This is your chance to personalize with room decor! Here are some thought to get you started:

  • Plants: cacti are my go-to, but succulents and spider plants look awesome too! 
  • Mini Fountain: movement creates a stunning moment, plus the water serves as white noise.
  • Photo Frames: great for a desk corner or on a bookshelf!
  • Paintings: a chance for you to hang up some of your own artwork.
  • Past Awards: bring out that 5th grade soccer trophy for that empty space on your shelf!
  • Random Items: I have an old candle holder that I use as a paperweight.

Big Change: Rearrange Space Within the Larger Room

Tidying up messy areas can really help to make your space feel larger and more open. In my experience, there are certain places within a room that tend to get messier faster. Here’s what to look out for. 

  • Closet: fold and hang…in rainbow order.
  • Dresser: try to categorize by drawer, with what you need most often at the top.
  • Bookcase: alphabetically and by genre, with a few empty spaces for simple décor.
  • Storage Boxes: take your miscellaneous items and stick them in a box under your bed.

Little Tweak: Cut the Clutter

Piles of paper on one end, stacks of textbooks on the other, pens and highlighters scattered across the desk, and a coffee-stained coaster underneath the desktop keyboard — if this was you at any point (it definitely was me), you know that clutter never did good things for anyone. In fact, it adds a lot of unnecessary stress to a study area that should actually be helping you to focus. Keeping your area neat and tidy will keep you organized both physically and mentally. Here are some ways you can do that:

  • File Folders: perhaps color code by class.
  • Labels: categorize drawers so that things are easy to find. 
  • Sticky Notes: reminders and such.
  • Bookends: can be anything from rocks you found outside to fancy decorative mugs.
  • Desk Organizers: for pencils, pens, highlighters, and that one Sharpie marker you have.
  • Paperclips & Binderclips: no stray papers, keep it together!

Feel free to use as few or as many of these ideas as you would like. Above all, your space is yours, so the most important factor is that you feel comfortable in your environment, and that it provides a variety of cozy nooks where you are able to both focus on assignments and study as well as unwind and relax.

Below, I have attached a couple of links that contain even more ideas to brighten up your study area and help you get stuff done! Stay healthy, and happy working everyone!

If Your Office is Separate from Your Bedroom:

https://www.thespruce.com/office-decor-tips-to-maximize-your-productivity-4151800

https://www.staffsquared.com/blog/how-to-make-your-office-space-look-fun-yet-professional/

If Your Office Is Your Bedroom:

https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/home/decorating-ideas/g1727/bedroom-makeover-ideas/?slide=17

https://www.thespruce.com/ways-to-transform-a-boring-bedroom-350734

P.S. I guess now would be a good time to finally begin the room renovation that I have been saying I’ll do for months…

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