1. Sticky notes

Those little pieces of paper that are vibrantly colored and can stick to any surface have never failed to keep my workspace interesting and effective. Sticky notes have always been the single most important desk item in my inventory. I see sticky notes as a blank canvas for online classes — they are perfect for taking quick notes, scheduling out the day and doodling. 

2. Pet fish

“Hey Buddy, do some tricks for the camera! Sorry, I think my fish is a little camera shy.” Having a pet fish is, in my unprofessional opinion, much like being a parent. It’s no easy task as it requires a lot of responsibility. Having responsibilities outside of online classes gives me the chance to focus my attention elsewhere for part of the day and spend quality time with the newest member of my University family.

3. Snacks

I have always believed that online classes lack flavor, and snacks can fill the gap between a bland lecture and a juicy discussion. Some amazing mid-lecture eats include the “mac-and-calculus,” the “poli-sci pot pie” and — my personal favorite — the “linguistics cheeseburger.” But I would avoid feasting on camera because we do not have the opportunity to share our scholarly sustenance with classmates. To round off this pun-filled section, I must admit I am super excited for some post-pandemic pastries.

4. Pillows

Who said that pillows should only be for resting and sleeping? My pillow is a universal tool of portable comfort that can easily be relocated from it’s high perch on my lofted bed to the flimsy backrest of my workstation chair. Apparently my affinity to pull my pillow into the workspace has some positive academic benefits, and modern critics of education argue that a more comfortable environment can foster better learning spaces. So grab your pillow — maybe a blanket too — and get comfortable this semester. 

5. Slippers

There is no article of clothing that is as indicative to comfort as slippers. Slip your feet into some cushy slippers and make every day of class feel as relaxing as a Sunday morning. Slippers don’t have to be limited to online classes either. Wear them to your in-person classes. Defy the status quo. Prioritize comfort over style. People should value comfort — it’s good for us!

6. Plants

The more my room resembles a Rainforest Cafe, the better. Just like pets, plants make great company. Houseplants care for you as long as you care for them. They purify your air, make workspaces more attractive and have been proven to increase creativity and mood. So make like a tree and unleash your inner botanist — your plants can make classes a bit more refreshing.

7. Laptop stand

Posture is key, and one way to improve it is to have your computer screen at eye level. Laptop stands can come in many different shapes and forms. Before I finally invested in one, my laptop stand collection included a myriad of household items including the following — books, empty shoeboxes, leftover food containers and sometimes a waffle maker. Studies argue for better posture in academic environments, but I would say that my efforts for better posture have been rewarded in many ways — including better overall health.

8. Detached keyboard

Detached keyboards are old-school, but maybe those old-timers were onto something when they designed computers to be further away from our faces. I cannot even begin to tell you all how satisfying the clicks of a detached keyboard are, especially since it gives me a feeling of power over my writing that is not realized with the wimpy keyboard in my laptop. I got one at a thrift store, and it is arguably one of the best purchases that I have made this semester.

9. Bluelight glasses

I am a firm believer that bluelight glasses are a solid investment. Although some claim that the effectiveness of these glasses is negligible in terms of eye protection, my claim still stands because they make me look much smarter in my Zoom calls. If they are protecting my eyes, then I’m doing something right — if not, then at least I’m boosting my confidence and feeling smarter. 

10. Lights

Get lit, literally! If you ever want to feel 17 again — I honestly do — make like a dancing queen and have a disco in the dorm between classes. I personally have mood lighting for all of my classes because it puts me in the academic zone. Using lighting can make a small room feel bigger — this is a fact proven by science! So shine a light on your workspace — it can work wonders!

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