In an effort to find efficient ways to work, I came across the standing desk. Basically, instead of sitting at your desk, you stand.
- Better posture: I’ve found that you can’t really slouch when you’re standing. Sometimes I’ll end up putting my elbows on the table while reading something, but that’s the exception rather than the norm. With a normal desk (or even a stability ball), it’s to way to easy to get into comfortable positions that aren’t that ergonomically great for you.
- More alertness: It’s pretty hard to fall asleep standing. I’ve done it before (and also fallen asleep mid-sentence), but it doesn’t happen too often Since my body’s in a much more active position, I don’t get comfortable enough to get sleepy. Always a good thing while working.
- Breaks from the computer: While working, there’s never a time when I’m constantly typing or reading, there is, on occasion, some thinking that happens. What’s great about standing is that it’s easy to just go walk around while thinking since you’re already on your feet. Or if I’m tired, I’ll just go sit down on the couch and think. Much nicer than staring at the monitor all the time.
- Burn more calories!: Standing and walking more just burns more calories. This computer life is a pretty sedentary and unhealthy one – might as well get some extra calorie burning in while you’re working. Others have tried walking while working (treadmill under the desk), but that seems like overkill at this point. However, I will sometimes play some upbeat music and dance in place while working
Before you commit to a standing desk, give it a try first. Find a counter or a bookshelf where you can place your computer and/or monitor in a way that your arms are bent at 45 degrees and your monitor is roughly at eye height. Try it for a few hours a day for a week and see how it goes. In the beginning, there was definitely an adjustment period for my legs and feet. My mother-in-law bought me a soft standing pad from a Korean supermarket (I think it was around $10 bucks) that really helps ease the pressure of standing on the floor – and, yes, the pad is pink with a cartoon dog on it.
I’ve been pretty happy with the Utby desk from Ikea (choose “brown/black” from color, and 47 1/4″ from size). It’s meant for the kitchen so there’s no drawers, but the crossbars make it very sturdy and also make nice foot rests. Oh, and I’ve got a barstool behind for those moments of weakness and I just really want to sit while working. Usually, when I’m reading things online.
If you want to know more, read about them on wikipedia and on the 37signals blog. Lots of the ones advertised as “standing” or “standup” desks are pretty expensive, so I’d recommend just looking around for simpler desk/tables/bars that happen to be tall. If you’re handy, you can also try building your own.