Freshman Boost Camp: Setting Up Your Work Space

Hand and computer with multiple pens and phone

The first year of high school is a year of incredible change. Students (often) are in a new building with new teachers, new staff and new expectations. It’s our goal here at NexTech to support all of our new students, especially our new 9th grade class. The blended learning model is an additional new item that our new students need to get acclimated to. This series of posts is targeted at new high school students for NexTech and tips for their success in their first year. 

Setting Up Your Workspace

School work at any high school can be overwhelming if you do not have a process or a way of working with your responsibilities on a daily basis. If you do have the supports necessary, you are more likely to stay connected to what needs to be done, what you are able to do at your pace, and be successful in your courses. Setting yourself up with a consistent and high-quality work space seems so simple, but it makes a huge difference when you settle down to get started on work for the day.

  • Establishing “your spot”
    • Find one place that will be your “spot” to work at home this year. If you have the space for a desk - that's great! If you don’t have the space, your spot could be anywhere from a comfy chair in the living room to a seat at the dining room table. 
    • It’s important to keep this spot set up for your work on a consistent basis. Have a water bottle ready to go, access to a plug for your computer charger and maybe some office supplies like pads of paper and pencils. 
    • Communicate with your family that this spot is your focused area and you want to keep it free of other non-school related items.
  • Distraction-free is the way to be
    • Wherever you decide to establish your workplace, take the time to set your space to be as distraction-free as possible. 
    • That being said, also make sure there are things for you to look at when you need a break. Our eyes need to rest often from looking at screens, especially computer monitors. Hang up some motivational posters, have a cork board with spots for pictures, or set up your work space by a window. 
    • One strategy to help stay focused and on-track is, at the end of any working session, put a note on your desk or computer. On this note, write one thing that you need to do the very first time you sit back down to do work. This immediately helps you get back on track and focused during your next work block. 
    • If you think of something during your day that you need to remember to do during your scheduled work time (see Part 1, Establishing Routines), write yourself a short note on your desk. This way you won’t forget and you can also stop worrying about it until it’s time to get back to work.
  • Keeping work away from eat and play
    • Our brains are quite clever in the way that our body can almost predict our behavior when we are in a particular place. This can be a huge help or a significant concern for students getting school work done at home. 
    • The same theory is true for good rest and keeping televisions out of your bedroom. You want to make sure to set boundaries for where you work and where you play and/or eat. 
    • The solution can be rather simple. If you sit on one end of the couch when you’re playing Fortnite or watching Netflix, set up your work space on the other end of the couch. Keep the remotes across the room and you should begin to know that one space is for work and one is for play. The same theory could be used at the dining room table. If you sit in the same seat to eat every day, pick another one when you’re working. Otherwise, you may find yourself eating quite a few snacks throughout the day.
  • Communicating with family
    • Let your family know that this is your work spot. This is helpful for them and for you. 
    • Establish some ground rules with people that you live with. When can they interrupt you when you’re working? When should they leave you alone to help you stay focused? Talk about this early before there is any conflict. 
    • How can your family help you stay focused when you are at your work spot? Should they be able to say something to help you get back on track if you are not focused? How can they help you succeed when you’re working?

Setting up your personal work space can be extremely beneficial to students, no matter where you are attending high school. For NexTech students, it’s extremely important as we are asking students to complete more learning independently between their on-campus learning sessions. Following these tips can help you be more productive during your time at home, which will help  you develop skills to be successful in all of your classes!

Next up: 
Freshman Boost Camp - Part 3: Creating Positive Energy for Yourself