One very important thing you need to do a PhD is space to work in - somewhere you can plonk your laptop and/or books and concentrate. This blog features some of the places I’ve worked in the past month or so.
I tend to work from home as it’s particularly conducive to work - I don’t have to faff around with waiting for and travelling on buses, and although my parents are always around, they’re not too noisy. This is my workspace at home:
It’s a little bit of a squeeze as it’s a small desk (I couldn’t fit a larger one in) in the corner of my bedroom. I dream of having my own home with a dedicated office! Nevertheless, this is still my favourite place to work - all my notes and books and stationery are close to hand, and it suits my slightly hermit-like nature. If I’m using my laptop and written notes or a book at the same time, the latter has to go in my lap, which isn’t ideal, which is why it’s sometimes nice to make use of a bigger table…
This is the dining room table, which I made use of for writing when my parents were away. There’s something quite official-feeling about sitting at a proper table to do some writing…
There’s even space for my research assistant to sit down, though naturally he had to sit on my notes when there was virtually a whole table’s space to choose from.
Like one of those hipster types, I sometimes like to work in cafés - like the dining room table, there’s just something special about it. But it’s not something I make a habit of - I fear the health effects of too much hot chocolate, and there’s always the ‘is getting there going to be too much time and effort?’ dilemma.
Fear not, I do go to campus sometimes. There is a graduate room in my department but I’m not a huge fan of it myself - it’s too computer-heavy, with no space for reading/handwriting/laptops. It really works for some people though. Soon there will be a new library wing opening with space for graduate students, so hopefully that will be better for me. The above picture is of the existing part of the library, where I tend to work if I have to get some books out, to save going to campus just to pick the books up. I haven’t worked there much recently because of the undergraduate exams - too much disturbance, too little space! I like working in the library when it’s quiet, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to work there if I have what I need at home, which is very convenient and less stringent about eating and drinking!