left: My standing desk
right: Did you know Hemingway wrote standing up?
Well okay, a temporary standing desk. The Boy and I are living with my parents until we find our own place, so currently my ‘desk’ consists of the hutch part of my old desk (it sits on top of it as a shelf) with some old thick DIY books raising my laptop up to a comfortable height. Aside from the less-than-inspiring backdrop of our possessions currently also temporarily residing at my parents’, it actually works quite well, although I think I’ll build a small stand to replace the books eventually.
Why a standing desk? Studies have shown that sitting down for long periods of time has a bad affect on your health, which makes sense when you think about how humans evolved to be active and that sitting still for several hours a day is a relatively recent thing. My job requires me to be sitting at my desk for 8 hours a day (I try to get up at least once per hour and go for a walk at lunch time), and since my freelance work and hobbies mostly involve a computer, I then spend a few more hours sitting down doing that. I knew it wasn’t healthy, but couldn’t really see a way of avoiding it other than changing careers to something that isn’t chained to a desk. But the standing desk thing has caught momentum, and I decided that now was a good time to try it out, without having to commit too much.
My setup does require me to look down slightly at my laptop screen – ideally, I’d be using an external monitor and keyboard, with the screen positioned higher than the keyboard so I can look directly forward. This hasn’t caused any issues so far, but when I put together a more permanent solution I’ll be keeping it in mind.
So far I’ve been using this setup for 3 weeks, since we got back to Perth. Here’s my thoughts so far:
- Standing barefoot on a hardwood floor does really hurt your feet after a while, but I think I’m getting used to it. Many people suggest getting a mat or something to stand on, but I’d prefer to see if I can tough it out.
- I’m only at the desk for a few hours each night, but standing for that long does take a bit of getting used to. I think it helps that we’ve just returned from 3 months of being on our feet for most of the day, so my muscles are a bit more accustomed to it.
- My (problematic) back always feels much better standing than when it does sitting down, and when working standing I definitely have much better posture.
- Due partly to the discomfort, I find myself moving around a lot more – shifting weight between my feet, stretching, and dancing. Some suggest that standing perfectly still is almost as bad as sitting perfectly still, but honestly I don’t think I’m capable of standing so still for long.
- I was worried I wouldn’t be able to concentrate as well standing, but I actually think I focus better – my brain now seems to equate standing with being productive. In fact it’s a good way to push a few more hours of work out of me with I get home, whereas if I was sitting down it wouldn’t take me long to start falling asleep or wasting time on Tumblr.
- The flipside of this is I don’t feel comfortable doing things like watching videos or eating at my standing desk. This is fine for me – I’m happy to relax on the couch to watch my tv shows or at the dinner table to eat.
- It’s difficult to judge as I’ve had other big lifestyle changes since coming home from our trip (like not drinking wine with every meal), but many people trying out standing desks have reported a bit of weightloss – a nice benefit I’ll be trying to keep track of.
- Since a standing desk doesn’t require a chair, it’s perfect for small spaces – definitely something that will come in handy in our new place.
This is definitely something that I’d like to persist with, as I think the benefits are pretty clear. Proper standing desks are pretty pricey (although the range is widening and prices are starting to drop as it gaines popularity), so I think the next iteration of my desk will have to be a DIY solution. I have a few ideas in mind and have started pinning home office inspiration on Pinterest. This will tie in nicely with my aim of learning to make more things by hand rather than purchasing them, and learning about woodworking!
Have you tried using a standing desk, or entertained the idea of one? If you’re unsure, I’d definitely recommend trying out a temporary solution like mine to get a feel for it. Just don’t give up too soon – it does take a bit of getting used to!