I often fantasize about my perfect office. It would be at the top of a tall building, and my desk would be in front of a window with a great view. My desk would be enormous, so that could spread out and still have lots of room for books and papers. There would be a mini-fridge stocked with ice coffee. Most importantly, it would be quiet. My home office is far from this ideal. It’s not really an office, but a corner in the living room. It’s a little cramped, and the window looks out on my neighbor’s wall. But I still manage to make it work for me. I can close the door and shut out the noise, and I have a great desk chair so I can sit and write without getting uncomfortable.

When you’re writing a dissertation, having a writing space that lets you concentrate and feel productive is crucial. Every dissertation writer has different space needs, so if you’re in a dissertation writing rut you may want to consider whether your space and surroundings are hindering your dissertation writing.

Here are some elements of your workspace to consider. Adapting any of these to suit you better could be an easy source of dissertation help.

Soundscape

Among my fellow grad students and dissertation writers, there are wildly varying opinions on whether it’s easiest to write in perfect silence, or with some background noise. Some people like music as they work, others find it distracting. Some need absolute quiet, but that kind of silence can make other dissertation writers go stir crazy. What kind of noise level is best for you? If you need silence, find an at-home work space that you can shut off from your family or roommates. If you need bustle and background noise, try working in a busier area of the house, or consider listening to music or the radio.

Desk

I like a big desk: I want to have all of the materials that I need for a day of writing close at hand so that I don’t have to get up and go find a reference book mid-page. For me, having a desk with a large surface area is important. But when I was writing my dissertation, I often lived in small apartments, where having a large desk wasn’t an option. I solved that by having a bookshelf nearby so that all of my materials were still within reach; or by using my dining table as my desk during the day. As Ginny Wiehardt writes, you can adapt even a small corner of your home into your personal writing space. Real Simple has some ideas on how to maximize your desk space in small spaces.

Lighting

I write best in natural light, which is why I like to have a desk by a window. While I was in graduate school, the shared grad student office was a windowless room in the middle of the building – for me, it was not at all conducive to getting work done! The florescent lights made my eyes tire quickly. If you find your eyes get tired when you’re writing, editing, and formatting your dissertation, consider finding a better-lit space.

Seating

If your back, shoulders, or arms hurt it can be impossible to concentrate on dissertation writing and dissertation editing. A good desk chair can make all the difference. Good desk chairs can be very expensive, and tough to afford on a dissertation writer’s budget. However, Lifehacker recommends a low-cost model from Ikea, or even exercise balls, as great alternatives to more expensive models. Standing desks are also becoming increasingly popular, so if sitting isn’t the best option for you, you might consider building your own low-cost standing desk.

Creating a good writing space can help you get through a dissertation writing slump. But if it’s not enough, give us a call. A dissertation coach or dissertation consultant can help you meet your dissertation goals. A dissertation editor can help you make sure your arguments are persuasive and your writing effective, and a dissertation formatting expert can make sure that your dissertation meets all of your institution’s requirements. We can also help with qualitative and quantitative research and analysis. We can provide dissertation help and dissertation services at any stage of your grad school process!