help me get habituated into my office!
November 8, 2012 7:11 AM   Subscribe

Help me "settle" into my graduate student office! I try to make myself more comfortable by bringing an electric kettle and tea bags. I also put a pair of slippers there. What else should I so that I can "settle in" the way I do in my office at home or in a coffee shop?

I recently got access to an office that I share with one other grad student. There is only one desk and a really comfy couch. I brought in a folding TV table so that one of us can work sitting on the couch.

I've been trying to work there, but can't seem to "settle in" the way I do in my "home office" at home or in a coffee shop. Are there any other ideas for making the space homey/comfortable? Would it help if I have my own desk (which will cost money, but it's doable)?

I also kind of HAVE to use this space during the day, because there's construction going on in my building, and I can't work in my home office due to the noise.
posted by atetrachordofthree to Education (16 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
If you have a couch in there already, a nice lap desk might be a good thing to have. I've always fancied this one from Levenger.
posted by pickypicky at 7:16 AM on November 8, 2012 [3 favorites]

I would get your own desk. If you have an active Craigslist in the area, you can get really good deals -- I got a good, sturdy desk for under $20.
posted by DoubleLune at 7:28 AM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

I would think that having your own desk would help, if you can manage it affordably—but that might just be a personal thing. (Will the campus really not provide one? Might not hurt to ask, if you haven't.)

A warm sweater and/or scarf, depending on your tendency to get cold. A plant or two for coziness, assuming you have some sort of natural light and don't mind caring for them. A couple of throw pillows for the couch, and a floor lamp (campus lighting tends to suck).
posted by cellar door at 7:30 AM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

You can likely get a desk for free if you're not too picky. Ask your administrative staff and/or facilities person where unwanted furniture goes. People are always recycling and rearranging furniture in an academic building.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 7:33 AM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

Yeah, definitely a desk. Also perhaps bookshelves or storage space. I brought in a blanket because it was very cold. You probably want some sort of quirky decoration, too. We've got a chimp skeleton and an inflatable pteradactyl which hangs from the ceiling,
posted by ChuraChura at 7:35 AM on November 8, 2012

If the lights are fluorescent, get a desk lamp. Makes an enormous difference.
posted by nebulawindphone at 7:36 AM on November 8, 2012 [4 favorites]

Nthing blankets and a lapdesk.
posted by drunkonthemoon at 7:38 AM on November 8, 2012

Your department gives you office space? *grumble*

Anyway, nthing your own desk, or a table at least where you're not slouching into the couch. Start with your department or facilities manager. Don't buy one unless you really have to.

It might also help to think what it is about coffee shops or your home office that makes it conducive for work: is it the lighting? the background noise? the smells? the view out the window? Is it something you have hanging on the walls that motivates you? If you can think critically about what it is about those environments that helps you be productive then you can try to replicate that in your office.
posted by absquatulate at 7:39 AM on November 8, 2012

Is there a window? A plant (spider plant, maybe?) may give you less of a sense of dreariness.
posted by kuanes at 7:47 AM on November 8, 2012

Lava lamp.
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:48 AM on November 8, 2012

I love my office. I've added a light crocheted blanket and a pillow to my small couch. There are two comfortable reading chairs as well -- can you fit in one, with a footrest, and a small table next to it? I have a large collection of plants but just one or two large ones (e.g. a small ficus tree) addds a lot. Peaceful but interesting art prints are cheap and great. And you'd be surprised how inexpensive it is to get a throw or area rug that looks and feels decent at the big box hardware/home stores like Lowes. Also nice are some photos of dear friends or family members and/or pets. I have a Keurig and a stock of herbal tea/tea/coffee pods. Lastly, a small fridge/microwave doesn't cost much and makes working through lunch a peaceful and easy thing to do. I like quiet classical music in the background, and if you do too you can add a small cheap speaker for your Ipod. Lastly, of course, keep it all clean and neat.
posted by bearwife at 9:07 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

I keep a pair of really nice over the ear headphones in my office. Makes going to the office feel like a bit of a treat. Also an extra sweatshirt, for when the heat is on the fritz
posted by matildatakesovertheworld at 9:28 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

I know academia is different than a corporate environment but I'd caution against "moving" into an office.

It's one thing to have an environment that's conducive to work, it's another to have a home-away-from-home.

If there's room, see if there's a desk floating around the department, or get this one from Wal-Mart.

Get attractive desk accessories. One or two personal photos in nice frames. Do not use an entire wall for a photo-collage.

Avoid smelly stuff, so many people are allergic (I am) so no oil burners or plug in air fresheners or such-like.

If you have onions on your sandwich, throw the wrappings away outside of your office.

Rather than comfortable, aim for ergonomic.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:31 AM on November 8, 2012 [3 favorites]

- I brought some really nice speakers from home so I don't have to use my crappy computer ones (headphones work if you need to keep your music to yourself).
- Photos of loved ones.
- Your own mugs or bottles for water.
- Electric kettle and tea - I did this, too!
- Any personal touches that will make you happy; I had a flag from my great-grandparents' home country on my desk.
posted by anotheraccount at 11:02 AM on November 8, 2012

Definitely get your own desk! Maybe a blanket for the couch too, and a lamp. A poster or framed print.
posted by radioamy at 12:19 PM on November 8, 2012

I'd say that scoring a great office chair is even more "homey" than your own office desk. If its new, it might take a few weeks to break in, though.

Also, clean and sleep on the couch a few times. Let your personal aroma permeate the place and "mark," so to say, your territory.
posted by porpoise at 1:53 PM on November 8, 2012

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