Tuesday, September 1, 2009

What is your workspace doing for your mood?

www.hgtv.com )

Last week a reader, Steve, gave me his secret for keeping sane while doing his PhD:

"I try and turn off the computer one day a week, and spend face to face time with earth people. I find that too much time on a computer makes me depressed...hence I work in coffee shops, open labs and very rarely in my cubicle."

I mentioned that, while I get very distracted in places like coffee shops and open labs, a nice quiet place next to a big sunny window (or as I mentioned in Sunday's tip post on letting go of your PhD Guilt, a shaded porch ) is perfect for me.

This started me thinking about how changes in scenery might affect our PhD Mood.

I used to have a friend who did all of her work while sunbathing on a balcony, which sounded really great in theory but never worked for me. How can you focus on anything with the bright sun in your eyes?

I know someone who puts together every presentation in the plane while on the way to present, and another person who does all of his nighttime work while sitting in front of the TV.

I think that a lot of us got through college by separating work and life. But when we're running this PhD Marathon, and we spend so much of our time doing work, we have to find a way to make even the most tedious of work enjoyable. At the same time we have to balance our enjoyment with our ability to actually getting work done.

A typical person's work environment is decided by a mysterious person - the interior designer for the company, or maybe the boss's mom - whom they've probably never met and is the same bland environment as that used by the 1000 other employees. This is unfortunate because people thrive in different environments. As a PhD student, you probably have the freedom to do much of your work in a place of your choosing, so next time why not put a little thought
(and feng shui principles) into it.

If you're feeling stressed, why not simplify your work area...

Or if you're down, consider something sunny...

Or if you're feeling uninspired, how about surrounding yourself with inspiring things...

All of the above?

Sometimes the right workspace is just what you're lacking. Until you figure out what you need, check out some of the craziest offices and more "nerd desks", and let us all know in the survey and comments what your ideal workspace is!