For the past week or so, I’ve been going to Starbucks about every day to both get out of the dorms aside from classes and to work on homework. At first, I thought it wouldn’t work out so well for actually getting work done, so I started with just reading. The first 10 minutes or so were a bit distracting, mainly from waiting for my name to be called so I could get my hot chocolate and from avoiding the lines of people during rush. But after I got my drink and settled down in an empty seat, it began to be much easier to focus and read, contrary to my expectations.
Many people who avoid studying or doing homework likely do so because of the overall atmosphere of Starbucks: loud and noisy, and smells strongly of coffee. These are all true, there’s no point in trying to deny it. But at the same time, for a person like me, the noise ends up being more comforting and relaxing of an atmosphere. For those of us who cannot sit in silence while we study or work, lyric-less music such as classical is a go-to, as it provides background noise without the distraction of listening to comprehensible words. This is a similar experience I’ve found in studying at Starbucks. After a while, the music, conversations, and mechanical sounds all blend together for a nice compilation similar to white noise. None of the conversations are especially distinct, so the mind doesn’t end up focusing on the words of others rather than the ones you need to read or write down.
As well, what I’ve noticed is that just the change of location and atmosphere forces me to be more productive. Back in my dorm room, I’ll get easily distracted – there are other things to do, people to talk to and hang out with, etc. Yet here in the campus Starbucks, I end up sitting at a smaller table by myself, and there are less things for me to get distracted by. Of course, I’ll still end up staring out the windows at passersby and the weather. Yet even though there are more windows and therefore more things to look at outside, I don’t feel the need to as much as I do in my dorm room. In my dorm room, we have one main window, facing into a courtyard. Not much of a view, to be honest. But because there’s only one window, we don’t get much natural light. By the late evening, I’m working at my laptop under a desk lamp, feeling very cramped and tense. Yet in the Starbucks, just about every wall is completely comprised of windows. Immediately there’s more natural light filtering in, and it also helps to make the space feel more open and less tight. This helps me to feel more relaxed and able to concentrate on the tasks at hand.
(Also, having quick access to coffee and snacks is a nice bonus.)