My Journey Into the Standing Desk
While I’m not a huge believer in new years resolutions, I do find that the holidays allow you to take a step back, and reflect on changes that you want for the future, and one of my goals was to have a sit/stand desk for 2016. After some research, I decided on the Ikea Skarsta sit/stand desk (about $260 before taxes/delivery) due to it’s smaller footprint, and simple operation. In order to raise and lower the desk platform, you turn a handle that you pull out from under the desk. Having a motor would have made it easier, but it only takes 20 seconds to adjust the height and is not difficult at all. Here is what the desk looks like:
5 Tips for Starting To Use A Standing Desk
Diving in and starting to use a standing desk can be a significant change for those of us that are used to sitting all day long, and this is why I chose a sit/stand option, as I knew I would want to sit for part of the day. Upon further research, I found that there are a number of tips and tricks for getting the most out of a standing desk. Here is a list of the top 5 tips for starting to use a sit/stand desk:
Tip 1: Quick Posture Check
This is my #1 tips for a good reason, having a correct posture can make the difference between aches and pains, and health and happiness. Sitting in our desks often translates into slumping forward, rolling our shoulders forward, and tilting out head out in front of our necks. This is all WRONG!! For getting started, check out this great video by QuittingSitting, it only takes 40 seconds to watch, and I recommend watching it every day you start standing until it is second nature:
Tip 2: Keep on Moving
Most of the damage that is associated with sitting at a desk all day is related to lack of movement, so KEEP MOVING!! It is not expected to move all that much, and you don’t want to become a distraction, but ensure that you are bending your legs slightly, moving your feet, and rolling your shoulders every so often (every couple minutes). This can just be a subtle adjustment. My personal go to is to alternate adjusting my knees. Right on out, left in, then switch. I don’t expect you to do this much movement:
Tip 3: Look Up
One of the biggest mistakes that you can make when starting to use a stand up desk is to not have your monitor at eye level. The most common way that people first set up their desk is to have a lap top on the desk surface, which then leads to looking down to do your work. This really defeats the purpose of having a standing desk, and makes it next to impossible to follow the correct posture while working. The solution is to have a second level on your desk that acts like a platform to raise your monitor/laptop up, while having your keyboard lower down. Here is an ideal layout:
I followed this by adding some basic brackets from Ikea, and made a shelf on top of my desk. Works like a charm:
Tip 4: Take Breaks
I really enjoy having dedicated work times that are broken into smaller sections, this is really close to the Pomodoro Technique of productivity, and I even made my own count down clock that breaks up work and breaks. This breakdown works great with my sit/stand desk. I started with a 4/1 ratio (sit 4 sections, stand 1), and have already worked up to 3/1 ratio! Progress! do what ever is right for your body, just be aware, and always try to grow. The end goal is not to be standing all the time, but to feel healthier, and have more productive days.
Tip 5: Lift a Leg
Part of standing also includes how to stay comfortable, and one secret to maintaining comfort is to have a small step or lift for one of your feet. This helps to displace the pressure of standing, and actually can engage slightly different muscles, which in the long run leads to less fatigue, and a more well rounded leg fitness. You can use anything that is about 5-10cm off the ground and fairly sturdy. Alternate regularly, and when ever you feel like you need a little change, but aren’t ready to sit down. There are also comfort mats that people use, but I just stick with good / comfy shoes and my block.
To The Future!
Have you tried a standing or sit/stand desk in the past? How did it work for you? Do you have any other tips to share?