How Your Office Environment Can Boost Your Chances Of Writing A Half-Decent Thesis

** In Collaboration** 


Ph.D. students have, in general, got it rough. Not only do we have to work hard day and night studying esoteric papers, but there’s comparatively little support out there for people in our position.

One area, in particular, is underserved: that of the humble Ph.D. office. While Google and Facebook install helter-skelters and ball pits for their colleagues, most Ph.D. students have to make do with their bedroom in rented accommodation – and environment which may not be suited to profound intellectual endeavor.
Writing a thesis is a surprisingly laborious process. It’s not just 50,000 words. Anybody with a couple of brain cells to rub together can write something of that length if they put their minds to it. It’s 50,000 words of original material which adds to the body of human knowledge – a much more trying task. Not all people who enroll in Ph.D. programs make it through to the end in one piece.
However, one thing that Ph.D. students can do is use the insights gleaned from companies over the years for what constitutes a productive office environment. Firms have worked out, mostly through trial and error, that if they change their offices in specific ways, they can make their workers more productive, happier, and stick around longer.
Do you want to be more productive while writing your Ph.D.? 
Do you want to be happier? 
Do you want to stick around and complete your course? 
If so, then you’ll want to read the following advice. Here’s how to customize your workspace so you can write a half-decent thesis.
Get More Natural Light

It might sound like a statement of the obvious, but increasing the amount of natural light reaching your office is vital for improving your overall wellbeing and productivity. There’s a reason so many large companies with the money buy enormous, glass-fronted buildings: they know that the more natural light there is in workspaces, the better.

  • Trick number one is to move your desk close to a window. The closer you can get the better, so long as you have space.
  • Trick number two is to place a mirror opposite the window to reflect light into the room in all directions. You’ll be amazed a just how much of a difference a mirror can make.
  • Trick number three is to add LED lighting strips around the coving. Most LED lighting strips use a simple adhesive, meaning that you can easily remove them if you have a fussy landlord.

Add Comfort
Here’s the part where you’ll need to do a spot of online home décor shopping. If you look at any modern office run by a progressive company, you’ll notice that they make a big deal out of including comfortable seating. It’s not that they want their colleagues to slob around playing video games all afternoon; it’s more to do with creating comfortable spaces that provide a contrast to regular office chairs. It’s okay sitting at a desk on a swivel chair for a couple of hours, but after eight, it starts to wear on you.
Ph.D. students have plenty of excuses to install plush seating in their offices. Unlike many workers, PhDs need places where they can sit and think about the issues of the day. A comfortable area is a great place for contemplation, where you come up with your next big idea.

Hide Unsightly Elements
Modern offices being modern offices are full of things that you’d rather not look at. The main culprit is all those cords hanging out of the back of your computer.

Most Ph.D. students, especially those in the sciences, rely on desktop computers to run all the programs that they need. But this comes at a cost: all those wires hanging out of the back of the monitor. Most setups have at least four: two from the monitor, one from the mouse and one from the keyboard, creating a ghastly mess.
You can hide all of these cords by strapping them together in a protective sheath and then running them all down to your main computer tower.
Printers are strikingly ugly too. You can stick a wireless printer in the closet where it’s out of sight.
Create A Supplies Cabinet
When you’re working hard on your next breakthrough idea, the last thing you want is to have to dash off to the stationery shop to buy new pens and paper. At the start of your course, stock up on all the things that you think you’ll need and save yourself hassle.


  1. One of the problems I had when writing my MA thesis was sitting in one position for too long – I used to switch it up now and again by moving my laptop to a higher surface for a “standing desk” effect. Something else I used to do was go for a walk in the park on my lunch break. This helped reduce my post-lunch productivity slump, get some natural light, and have a chance to be a little bit active.

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