Friday, July 8, 2011

Special Edition: My Week with a Standing Desk!

UPDATE: It is now about three months later (and about 20 pounds lighter, ha ha) - and I am even more convinced about the power of standing desks! :-)

Since it is Friday, I thought I would take this chance to report on an exciting new experiment which I began this week: I'm using a standing desk! In fact, I am standing while I write this blog post.

As you can all probably guess, I spend every day in front of my computer, both during the school year when I am teaching online and during the summer when I am working on projects. My genius husband had decided some months ago that he wanted to switch to a standing desk, based on factors like the ones you can read about in this New York Times article: Stand Up While You Read This. He did lots of research and concluded that our best option was a Conset desk to be purchased from ErgoDepot.com. And here's the serendipity factor... when he talked to the folks at ErgoDepot out in Oregon, it turned out that the Conset America office is right here in North Carolina, just an hour's drive from where we live. So the nice folks at Conset (thank you, Cindy and Kate!) invited us to come into the shop and see the desks in action. I wasn't sure I wanted to get one myself, but as soon as I saw how easy it was to raise and lower the desk, I knew this was something I had to try!

And... WOW... it has been even better than I expected. Standing up, at least for me, completely changes how I feel while I am working. It makes me want to move around and stretch and even dance to the music (my office is at home, so I am not driving any officemates crazy by bouncing around). Plus, I am getting the full benefit of my big monitor now that I can really adjust the desk height - I wear trifocals, so finding the "sweet spot" where my eyes can focus right on the monitor is such a big plus for me! As I get used to standing (my goal is to be standing all day by the time school starts in August), I just raise and lower the desk as needed - a low position is perfect for me when sitting (short person that I am), and there are basically two different standing heights I use, depending on whether I am doing more reading on the monitor or whether I am mostly just using the keyboard and mouse. I thought I would need something to adjust the monitor height separately, but not at all - my monitor stand has a tilt option that has allowed me to find just the right combination of desk height and monitor angle for everything I have been working on this week.

Apparently, it's not just me who feels this way - here's a quote from a different NYTimes article, Can't Stand to Sit Too Long? There's a Desk for That, that conveys exactly what I have experienced this week myself:
I suspect that this is because when you’re standing, you feel a bit unchained from your desk. If I got stuck on a word or sentence as I wrote, I found myself shaking my arms, bouncing on my feet or stepping away from the desk for a bit — things I couldn’t do in a chair. Often, the antsy-ness seemed to relax my mind enough for me to get over my creative hurdle.
Exactly my experience: I just feel less "stuck" with anything I am working on while standing, but at the same time I feel much more focused. I guess all those millions of years of evolution that got us to stand up on our hind legs were also busy making our brains feel good about that, too!

Anyway, I thought I would write about this in the blog here since probably there are some of you out there who are also in front of a computer monitor all day - and this might be something you want to try. Already in the first week, I am standing about 4-5 hours per day without any problem at all - it feels great, in fact! I'll report back in a few weeks about my progress towards my goal of standing all day. Meanwhile, here are some pictures - first, I'll embed the video from Conset that shows a desk in action, and then below the video is a picture of my own desk, lowered on the left and raised on the right.

Are any of you out there using a standing desk solution already? Feel free to chime in with comments... and not to worry: the regular Bestiaria will be back on Saturday morning! :-)



7 comments:

flyingfish said...

What a great investment! I use a balance ball in place of a desk chair, and that has a similarly liberating effect. Keep us posted!

Laura Gibbs said...

For a long time I used a kneeling chair, and that was part of what inspired me to make the switch - I had a great experience with the feeling of openness that the kneeling chair offered... and standing is even better! :-)

Nathan Lowell said...

WANT.

Laura Gibbs said...

Nathan, no kidding - I was really dubious at first and even told my husband for months that there was no way it could REALLY work... so he is having a big "I told you so" moment with all of this, ha ha. Meanwhile, I am thrilled. I guess it will take a few months before I can be really sure, but so far, I am amazed at what this has done for me. I've been taking walks every day for the past few months and have lost some weight this summer and now the desk looks to be the magic ticket to keeping me on a good trajectory even after summer is over and craziness of school begins again. Very happy. :-)

UC Professor said...

Great for you to do this! I converted my office desk to a standing desk last January and have been loving it! It's good to have the option of being able sit occasionally if you're legs are feeling fatigued or are having an off day. Surprisingly it took me only about 2 weeks to feel fully comfortable standing for hours at a time.

Laura Gibbs said...

I was surprised, too - and since my office is at home, something I did not expect was how it would prompt me to take care of little chores around the house during the day more readily than when I was sitting. I've been better about watering the plants, tidying up, etc. - it's as if because I am already on my feet, it just makes sense to take care of other things too. Everything feels much more integrated. :-)

Duncan MacIntyre said...

Good to see you're enjoying the sit stand desk experience. It's a great way to work.