For students writing a thesis, it can be a long and sometimes lonely journey. From the big lecture theatres and lively tutorial groups of undergraduate study, the solitary work of the PhD or masters student can be a culture shock, especially when you find yourself shut off in your bedroom, toiling at your desk day after day.
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A good way to feel connected with other people is to venture out into the wider world every so often, laptop and readings at the ready. But how do you find a good place to work?
There are a few essentials that you need to tick off in any public workspace:
- good-sized tables
- accessible power outlets
- comfortable seating
- good lighting
- appropriate opening hours
- inexpensive drinks and food
So, where do you go to find these things in one place?
A café can be a great place to work. In fact, studies have shown that the gentle background noise of the humble café is a great productivity boost, so it’s much better than a silent bedroom. Make sure the café you choose has plenty of space—you don’t want to attract the glares of the wait staff if you’re taking up a valuable table for hours at a time with only one coffee. A rule of thumb is to check out if other people are working on their laptops. If the café offers Wi-Fi, it might welcome people staying and working. And don’t be afraid to ring up and ask if it’s okay.
You might not have heard of a coworking space—a relatively new concept, these spaces are essentially open-plan offices where freelancers can pay a membership fee and have access to the space, which often includes fast Internet, snacks, tea and coffee facilities and 24-hour entry. Paying a membership fee might not work for students, but check out spaces in your city: there might be open days or introductory offers.
After heading off to university, many people forget the humble local library in favour of a more academic offering. However, regular public libraries are often equipped with excellent facilities, plenty of desk space and Internet. While you can sample a range to find your favourite, the best thing about libraries is there’s often one near you, so don’t discount them as a great place to work.
Pubs and Bars
On weekdays, pubs and bars can be an unexpectedly great place to work. They’re often nice and quiet and many offer Wi-Fi, pleasant outdoor areas and good, affordable food. Plus, as a treat, you can arrange to meet friends there when you’re finished working.
Especially good if you need to get on top of your reading, parks provide several upsides—they’re free, they’re a nice working environment and you can top up on Vitamin D from the sun, fresh air and exercise, if you’re so inclined.
Many museums these days are offering Wi-Fi and seating. When you’re ready for a break, you can wander around the exhibitions and be inspired by the knowledge and research.