Cappuccinos and ear-plugs

I’m very lucky in that my research institute provides a great study space for PhD students- each student has their own desk and computer, we have a tea-room, a pin to access uni out of hours, bicycle parking, a shower, access to the printer/copy/scanner, telephones, meetings room – yes, it is civilised here. 

But sometimes I just get so bored sitting in the same place! and it is also the place of my *bad habits* (read: email, blogging, more email) so I need to move. 

My favourite lately is to pack a pair of ear-plugs (faculty provided but you can get at the hardware store), noise cancelling headphones and $3.35 for a decaf cappuccino (extra hot so that I can drink it sloooowly as I read my literature).

Here I sit in a noisy cafe with my laptop, my cappuccino and encased on my own virtually soundless bubble. The gossiping undergrads next to me? Can’t hear a thing.  The fluoro vested workmen on their break – zip, nothing. Just me and the laptop. 

In fact, cafe’s aren’t the only place I escape to for some productive “away from my desk” time- yesterday it was my local municipal library, a few weeks ago the scholars room in the uni library. 

What I find best is when I’ve got a limited time to achieve something – e.g yesterday I had two hours parking in front of the library before it became a clearway. This limited my distractions as I was so focused to do something before I had to move the car (and go home).  Working in the scholars room gives me the same result. Its quiet, I know I’m there for a short period and I’m reluctant to leave my laptop, even more reluctant to pack everything up just cause I want a hot drink/toilet stop.

Here’s some spaces that work for me:

– UTS library scholars room

– local library

– Cafe’s: cafe at uni, cafe at the pool (with my daughter in the pool creche),

– Gym: put academic podcasts on my iPod and listening to some very interesting explanations of Grounded Theory whilst on the cross-trainer

Places that don’t work for me:

– Bed: I just feel guilty that I’m not giving myself any down time

– Home: toddler, washing up, clothes to hang out = too many distractions 

– Park/Garden: too much glare on the laptop screen, too tempting to sleep when I’ve got a book

Do you have some good alternate study spaces? Or spaces that are just impossible to study?



About Sarina Kilham

I'm a Doctoral Researcher at the Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology Sydney. Trained as a social scientist and with a Masters in Sustainable Agriculture, I'm interested in farmer's experiences of growing feedstock for biodiesel production. My research has focused on biodiesel production in Brazil and Timor-Leste. Also on Twitter @sarinakilham and blogging at
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