Your environment has a big influence on your productivity and learning experience. Adopting the right environmental setup can help you learn efficiently and increase your motivation to get things done. If you’re looking to change your workspace or need some inspiration, we hope this blog post filled with some of our essentials and desk layouts from your fellow SWE members will help you!
Desk-You can’t have a desk tour without a desk right? Desks are important because they provide a designated space for productivity, which can help you focus and boost your learning. Although it is not necessary, having drawers and additional storage space is always a plus!
Desk Chair-I’m sure you don’t plan on standing and working long hours at your desk. In that case, you are definitely going to need a desk chair so you can sit back and relax while being productive. Since you might spend lots of time at your desk, you should aim to have a comfortable chair. The more comfortable you are, the better!
Stationary-There are a few stationary items (“school supplies”) that are must haves for any desk to be considered a proper working space. For starters, you must have plenty of paper to write on and some pens and pencils to write with. If I had to recommend some pens that are excellent for note-taking, I would recommend G2 Pilot pens! They are super smooth and come in vibrant colors that are sure to liven up your notes. Aside from pens, pencils, and paper, you are going to need a couple more things: tape (with a dispenser), stapler, sticky notes. Tape is great if you accidentally rip your paper and staplers are the best for binding multiple papers together. Lastly, sticky notes are super handy if you want to take notes in your textbook but you don’t want to write in them.
Laptop-In this digital day and age, it is becoming more of a requirement that everyone own a laptop for a number of reasons. Laptops are super portable, which is a huge plus especially if you are a college student so you can do your work anywhere. In light of corona and “Zoom University”, a laptop is a necessary piece of technology to incorporate as part of your desk essentials. Since laptops can be a bit frustrating to navigate with the finicky, built-in touch pad, I highly recommend buying a mouse. Logitech has cute “computer mice” that come in all sorts of sizes and designs depending on what you are looking for. Also, if you are going to buy a mouse for your laptop, you might as well get yourself a cute mouse pad while you are at it. The mousepad prevents your mouse from sliding all over the place and adds an additional aesthetic to your desk!
Earbuds-“Zoom University” demands that you own a pair of earbuds. Earbuds help to block out sound from others around you and it also helps you to focus on virtual lectures because your professor’s voice can directly reach your ears….literally. With the numerous options available, you can get bluetooth earbuds, like AirPods or Beats, or you can stick to wired earbuds.
Calculator-A calculator is a nonnegotiable for everyone, specifically engineers. As an engineer we are tasked with numerous calculations regardless of the specific field we are majoring in. The minimum requirement is that everyone should have at least a TI-84 or better because that is the standard calculator that supports graphing and various other functions (like solving matrices, which is handy for linear algebra). Since your desk is a workplace and a calculator is necessary for work, it is definitely a desk essential!
Tissues-Maybe this is the emotional and sentimental side of me speaking but it never hurts to have tissues accessible near your desk. Sometimes you just need to cry out your feelings about midterms and tissues are great for capturing tears. It’s also great for the occasional cold or water spill accident on your desk. Name brands, like Kleenex or Puffs, are amazing for all of these purposes.
Desk of a Chemical Engineering Student and UT SWE's Publicity Chair!
“After a couple months of taking online classes at my tiny desk, I’ve found that what works for me is avoiding clutter, which accumulates very quickly, by placing the many colored pens, markers, etc. I own in a separate drawer, and keeping my desk space as clear and distraction-free as possible. “
Things on my desktop (from left to right):
Plants - okay I know I said I try to keep it minimal, but my quarantine plant addiction said ~no~ and now my plants take up most of the free space on my desk
Pink desktop protector - I’ve had this since I lived in the dorms, and it’s great for protecting your desk from hot mugs, spills, and the occasional paint splatters. It also works as a giant mousepad
Laptop and bluetooth mouse - my must haves for zoom university;
Lamp - this is truly an Amazon favorite of mine (so many settings + usb charging port)
Drawer items: Calculator, Pencil pouch, Laptop case, One pad of sticky notes
Najia’s Study Space:
Desk of a second-year chemical engineering student and UT SWE Publicity Committee member!
“My study space doesn’t really have a theme; it's just a collection of random things that have worked so far for me!”
Here are my highlights:
My drawing board , is a remnant of high school art class, but a must have so I can slouch at my desk while still being productive! My lamp is a clip on lamp that can be moved to my drawing board or sit on a stand like a normal lamp. (another similar drawing board)
A throw/ blanket to be cozy!
Herbs! Ever since I moved out of my Austin apartment, my herb garden is scattered through my room at home. My favourites are my thai basil and chinese chives! (Click here to find similar pots)
A second monitor: Zoom university demanded that I get a second monitor but instead of investing in one right now, I converted my ancient iPads into monitors!
Book ends: I used to have stacks of notebooks and papers scattered all over my desk, and it really annoyed me. I recently got these bookends that are a really seamless way to keep my study materials accessible while making my desk tidy. (I specifically like that I can keep everything upright, now.)
My Harry Potter Coasters just make any drink more fun! And, I guess I’m “protecting” my desk from any liquid.
Blank notebooks from muji or daiso: I started buying lineless notebooks when I was in o-chem, because I really don’t like drawing on lines and it’s stuck with me ever since. (click here to find a similar notebook)
Mildliners: Super aesthetic -- they make studying bearable honestly.
Kaitlyn’s Study Space:
Desk of a third-year civil engineering major who wants to work in traffic engineering and also SWE’s publicity director!
“I like to have a very clutter-free space, which I feel like helps me focus a lot more! I also have a whiteboard that I can write down quick to-dos on, and I also have a jar of pens because you cannot have too many pens! I'm currently subleasing from a friend, so this desk is hers and so most of the pictures on the wall are hers. I get to look at her lovely face a lot when I study LOL.
I bought a kale plant two weeks ago and I put it right next to my desk, it honestly makes me feel less stressed every time I look at it. 10/10 would recommend it! The strangest thing in my space is a small baby hand (shoutout to Advancement branch's care packages) on a bulletin board that doubles as a hair tie holder!”
Soraya’s Study Space:
Teahouse study spots of a first-year civil engineering major who wants to become a crucial member of the construction community!
“My study space is any local coffee/boba shop, mostly boba. The fact that there isn’t a comfy bed I could jump in really helps me keep on task, keeping me from the temptations to sleep and procrastinate on my work. The green artificial plants that are supposed to separate the boba makers from the guests, but they don’t really keep us apart that well. I come here super often, so I get a lot of free drinks from the employees, too!”
Ria’s Study Space:
Desk of a third-year mechanical engineering and linguistics double major, who wants to go into user research and SWE’s VP Advancement!
“I'm at home so I have my trusty desk (built into the wall of my house)! Recently, I got a new lamp! It has a fan and changes color with temperature :0”
Satya’s Study Space:
Desk of a Third-year ECE major and this year’s SWEcretary!
“I have my laptop that I do all my work on, and then I use a super old MacBook for Zoom, so I can look at slides and assignments while I’m in class. I always keep my water with me (stay hydrated folks!) and my plants! They help liven up the room and add color :-) I like to collect Pluckers anniversary week mason jars, and I keep all my pens in the 23rd anniversary jar!”
This blog post was written by
Khyati Jariwala - 2nd Year Biomedical Engineering Major and Publicity Committee member
Najia Sherwani - 2nd Year Chemical Engineering Major and Publicity Committee member
Annisya Sabrina - 2nd Year Chemical Engineering Major and Publicity Chair