Distinct Work and Study Spaces?

As background, I've spent the last three years both working from home and attending an online school program. I've kept my work and school laptops at a single desk because I have a multi-monitor set-up that can't really be moved around. The unfortunate result is I spend about 14 hours every day just sitting at a single desk with very little mental differentiation between working and studying. This feels like it lowers my productivity because I use a very different mindset for work and school, one requires more active learning than the other. And it's like the advice not to do anything but sleep in your bed so your mind associates it with sleep and you have an easier time actually getting to sleep. I'd like to associate my desk with the active learning of school, despite the 8 hours spent doing far less active work.

I'm wondering if anyone has taken any steps to try and separate their work and school (or work and personal) lives despite both being focused around a single space. Do you use wildly different screensavers/desktops, or switch out the picture on the desk to make it feel different? Or take any other steps to make the experience of using each laptop different. OR, on the other hand, has it just not affected your productivity to have a single melded "productive" space rather than trying to make a distinction between when you use it for work and when you use it for personal/school?

  • Hi Amanda

    I really share the same problem of using a laptop or a computer in the same place in the same position for a long time. It is really frustrating about the contemporary way of working and learning that is either a cubical or even at home nowadays, which would lower any social activities or interaction with real people. What I tried to do differently is move around and take myself to other places if possible. I like to switch to cafes with soft music and not so crowded to feel different. Jazz music is also my friend to soothe my work and studying. Motivating pictures and small to-do lists on a screen saver would sometimes help, but putting them there takes some time that you may feel too lazy to do every day. 

    You have to know it is not you; the current way of living pushes us to be more robotic than humans. But once you finish, you need to know how to change that in the near future.  

  • i actually built myself a rolling cart with doors for my desktop PC setup. When i take it out - that's my signal to be in work mode. Otherwise i can tool around on my tablet.

  • I like that tactic. the issue is always to create a different vibe to feel the difference and maintain it. 

  • Maybe try playing different styles of background music depending on if you're working or studying. Or maybe drink different types of beverages.

  • When you don't need multi-monitor for school, take your laptop outside and get some fresh air while you do your school work.

  • You could set up 2 user profiles you can switch between, with different wallpapers, themes, colors, creating a general mental space that triggers the type of productive mood you are looking for. Maybe even buying LED light strips to change your walls or using music genres, candles or aroma therapy scents consistently. I was going to say music genres, but that is already covered fairly well in other comments. I have not needed to do any of these. I just use one computer and one room for everything. Also, I am generally less than productive in any way.

  • One other idea is changing the surrounding like using different wall decor, deskpad or switching the layout of things on the desk for bigger differentiation

  • I work from home mostly, and my work set-up is on a desktop with multiple monitors. When I'm studying, writing, or playing games it's on the couch with a laptop. Maybe consider getting monitors and wireless keyboard/mouse for your work setup.

  • I would suggest having a seperate PC/Laptop for personal and office/work usage