Once upon a time, as little as two years ago, I would sit at home with my pencil, paper, and textbook, and actually get some work done. Somewhere in 2004, that particular work skill ran away and has yet to return. Since then I’ve been working on a new routine for working on my assignments.

The library itself tends to be too quiet and intense for me to concentrate. Listening to music helps, but generally I start listening intently to the lyrics (or just an instrumental melody) and forget all about the differential equation waiting to be solved.

Study rooms, such as the one in the Physics building, are better in that they allow some talking and even discussion with other people who might be able to help. But I still find this lacking. The general state of the physics study lounge may not be as intense as the library, but it is still only occasional perturbations from this ground state that make it any more bearable.

The idea study environment is one with a nice level of background noise, but not so specific that I can focus on one source. Listening to some music about a room of chatter is perfect, since the regular melodies blend with the ear-drawing conversations into a blurry white noise. Though I could use the group study floor in the Schulich Library, the second requirement—something to snack or sip on—rules that out. A large workspace for my notes, books, and papers puts the final nail in the coffin, putting the numerous Montreal coffee shops and their intimate little tables firmly in the category of impracticality.

The old solution was Redpath’s Info Cafe, where Tim Horton’s sissy cappuccino flowed and two people could share a big round table with plenty of room for a plethora of educational paper products. Unfortunately, as of late, the dipping temperatures has put indoor space at a premium, and the loss of two of the big tables makes the supply scarce.

So, for the protection of both my weekly budget and my internal body temperature, I’m attempting a switch to the old ways. I will make my tea at home, I will put on music at a low enough volume that I can hear it but not sing along, and I will settle into to making use of the whole 8 feet of my desk.

I guess I already have everything I need right here. Maybe my quest for a perfect workspace has always just been a quest for someplace that felt like home.

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