Quiet space


======= Date Modified 04 00 2008 22:00:00 =======
Hi all,

Having issues finding a good working atmosphere and was just wondering if anyone else finds the same thing and has any tips at all.

Simply put: I can't work in my shared office.

I find it incredibly difficult to do anything vaguely taxing when there are other people around. I have a desk in an office shared with four other people, and while I can about get on with a bit of admin-y work or mindless data-crunching while they are there, I just can't do anything which requires much concentration or get on with writing anything of note. It's not the people, they're all great, it's just the fact that there are people there (being overlooked is especially unnerving). I'm just always tense and can't relax unless I have some privacy.

My days pretty much consist of killing time hoping for a bit of time in the office alone to get on with something, or doing lab work instead so that I'm actually doing something productive (but when I should be writing something). To get a yearly report written recently, I resorted to coming in the evenings and working at night when the building was empty and I could have some peace and solitude. I don't see that as a particularly sustainable solution, it's bad for sleep patterns and social life and isn't very fair on my partner.

All my work in my undergrad days was of course done at home in peace, quiet and above all privacy. I need that atmosphere to be able to think straight and get anything done. My office buddies don't have the same problem.

I was just wondering if anyone found the same thing, and had any tips or advice?
(And secondarily I suppose if it proves I'm not a weirdo, so much the better. ;-) )


I have the same thing really.. I struggle to do any serious writing at work as it is too noisy and hectic in the office, also there are a couple of people in there who like it to be like a sauna which means I get too hot and can't concentrate which sucks.. When I have reports to write I do that at home, normally during the day when my housemate (who is also very distracting and noisy!) is out at work.. Can you not do work at home now? Is there a library you can hide away in to work?

Avatar for sneaks

I have the same problem, I have two work places, my office at uni, where like you I can get admin work done but not much more and my industrial partner's office which is so quiet I can't concentrate on anything apart from wanting to have a cup of tea. I have just learnt to save practical work and admin for the days I am in the offices and my theoretical reading/writing for home, where I like to sprawl in my 'day pyjamas' with multiple cups of tea and where I can jump about on my trampette when I get bored and watch an episode of 'eli stone' when I get mind blocks and have my cats for company (sound like crazy cat person now but they keep my lap warm when writing). Also I can log on to here without prying eyes knowing I'm not doing work.


I also have this problem. I cannot work in a shared office, or even next door to a noisy office, or in a busy library (and libraries are always busy). I have always studied from my student flat/digs or now at home. You're definitely not a weirdo, I'd say at least 50% of people find it difficult to work in the presense of others. I can never understand how people who do very high pressured/technical jobs can cope with working in an open plan office.

As for tips...is it not possible to work at home, and just pop into your department once or twice a week? Also, have you had a good look around your department for some quiet space? I often find that seminar room can be empty for most of the week. And, have you tried using earplugs or wearing earphones? If you wear earphones (even if you're actually not listening to anything) people are much less likely to disturb you.


Have you tried noise-canceling headphones? There are some that don't cost too much, you can plug into your laptop and not listen to anything (like music) but block out everything else.


I am having a similar problem. I would be so much more productive at home when it comes to writing and sorting out figures, but because my PhD is lab based and my supervisor is always around (and believes you should be at your bench doing lab work mimimum 9-5), I'm worried I won't be able to get away with it. I'm sick of doing it in theevenings as I'm too tired to do it properly and then I find I can't relax as I haven't left myself enough time. Sometimes I consider leaving at around 3pm (I'm super organised and can usually get my lab work done by then), but noone else ever seems to do this. They prefer to leave everything to last minute when it comes to written/computer work, however I really want to finish on time. I wish more people would have an open minded attitude to working environments and productivity!

Avatar for sneaks

My issue isn't really with noise, more about feeling relaxed, and with others in the room I just don't feel like I can be. At home I can just be more laid back and therefore work better as I am not as stressed. And I can get several cups of tea an hour without getting funny looks!