Writing a thesis. Location location location.


After years of having experiments dictate the schedule of my life, it’s odd to be able to pick up and do my work any time and anywhere. All that’s required after all is my brain and my laptop. What I haven’t yet settled on is my favourite “anywhere”, so I’ve been trying out various locations to see which promotes maximum focus and minimum despair.

  1. The obvious place to start was the office in which I’ve been doing my reading and writing since I started my PhD. It’s got my nice big PC with dual monitors and expensive software and my lab book archives at hand. It’s also got all the lovely people I’ve been working with for two years – highly distracting. On top of that the proximity to the lab adds the temptation to “just throw on a quick experiment; it’ll only be a wee one”. No, bad plan.
  2. My University has a great facility for Postgraduate Students – why have I never been here before?! They give you free coffee and buns every so often and the odd breakfast thrown in for good measure. They know us too well – free stuff is the ultimate draw for PhD students! The chairs are fancy, the desks are spacious, and they come with an ambient desk lamp to give that super studious feel. The fact that there are no undergrads here browsing Facebook gives it a serious vibe and the impression that people here do “real work”. I also managed to hook up the PC monitor to my laptop to get my nice dual screen setup (this being necessary since my laptop is great but so very very tiny). It’s a bit quiet though, and a bit cold. It also gives me nasty flashbacks to my time as an undergrad studying in the library for finals. Hmm. 
  3. Home. Home was once a sanctuary; the flat I shared with my best friend. I’m now a typical destitute, poverty-stricken student (ok, hardly but I like the dramatic connotations) since I no longer receive a stipend. I’m back living with my parents. While I know I’m very lucky to have this option, there definitely has to be minimal hours spent here for everyone’s sanity. I’ll preserve this one as an emergency backup (for example when I just don’t fancy getting out of my pyjamas).
  4. The final option is Starbucks. I wouldn’t have thought this would be a particularly viable option – given aforementioned impoverishment – however the discovery of free refills has turned the tables. This makes it £1.90 for a sofa spot, WiFi, coffee all day and a window for people watching. If you factor in increased coffee-driven productivity and free white noise, it’s actually a bit of a bargain. Plus I feel like a cool hipster type who hangs out in coffee shops (that’s a thing right?).

Probably would do well to spend more time actually writing this thesis than thinking about where to write it…

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