Friday, July 13, 2012

Stand and Deliver

Long long ago, I realized that I could while an entire day away- effortlessly- sitting in front of a computer. This was pretty much OK with me. Socializing! Music! Reading! Researching! Movies! Whatever I wanted.

When I started changing things up, I realized how much time I spent, sitting in front of a glowing screen, and determined that I was somehow going to have to limit my time.

So I got a timer. This worked, most of the time. But occasionally I would run  into the office to check email really quick- or print out a recipe. Two hours later, I would realize that I still hadn't done what I hopped online to do- I was just mindlessly surfing. Whoops. I traded out my chair for one of those giant fitness balls. That made me feel a little better- I was a more active participant in sitting and staring at my screen- but really, not much had changed.

The thing that eventually turned it around for me was of course, a post at MDA about the dangers of sitting for prolonged periods of time. Now- most of the things I enjoy and am good at- like drawing, and knitting, and reading books, and watching TV, and staring slack-jawed at a computer- are all traditionally activities that assume you're sitting down. So....How could I change some of that?

I looked at my desk. I had inherited it- a giant, oak toned particleboard, standard desk with a cut-out for a rolling chair (or in my case, a "fitness ball") and a slide-out for a keyboard. It seemed wasteful (and let's face it, sudden) just to pitch the thing. What if I didn't like standing?

I took a harder look at that desk. I measured some stuff. And then I moved my monitor up to the top of the hutch. And put a storage box on the desktop to get my keyboard to an optimal height for typing.

It's not a technically ideal solution- my monitor is a little bit too high, unless I am in heels. My legs get tired. I occasionally realize that when I am shifting my weight from leg to leg, I like to flex my right knee.  In a perfect world, I would get a bar stool to perch on occasionally, or a small step so I can stand around like Captain Morgan and switch legs, as needed.

But I do know that when it is time to blow this popsicle stand (in 5.5 months!) I will be shopping for a bonafide standing desk. Because the upsides are huge- I spend less time on the computer, and the time I spend is not only active time, it's productive time. I get more done. My brain is definitely more engaged.  I figured out that if I am REALLY motivated, I can actually use my mini stepper, and walk while I read. Yes, I look like a dumbass- but a dumbass with AMAZING LEGS, people! The big hole under the desk I used to use for my knees, now holds the mini-stepper- and a large portion of my yarn stash.

While a lot of the options out there are expensive, they really don't have to be. If you've got some ingenuity, a bookcase, your existing desk, a counter, or even a strategically placed shelf or two would do the trick.

If you are a DIY kind of person and want a dedicated workstation, this How To at IKEA Hackers may be your speed. Or perhaps this one, from Apartment Therapy? (The AT version is pictured at left.)

If you want something that comes pre-packaged in a box, there are tons of options out there, if you google "standing desk".

When the time comes for me to spend my money, I will probably go for something a little more decorative- either an armoire, or a bookcase- and modify it to suit.

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