Standing Desk, The Experiment

For the last 2 years I’ve been considering switching from a regular sit-all-day-long chair potato setup to a standing desk. It always seemed like a fancy expense, last on the shopping list, “sometimes I jog the evening so I don’t need to stand at work” type of gadget.

But it’s been almost two months already since I made the switch and I can say that it’s great.

Why am I doing this?

Main reason is health. If you’re reading this then most likely you came across one of many posts and articles about how bad sitting all day is:

Sounds grave, right? And since I finally had the chance to do something about it I decided to take it.

I turned 30 last year and since then I have become a bit more health conscious. Nothing serious so far, but a standing desk, loosing weight, eating better and running a marathon in 2014 are my mid-term goals.

There’s also a second factor (YMMV) - I think, focus and have better ideas while standing (ideally when walking). Back in high school and at the university I really enjoyed learning while walking around the room. Not very convenient if you need to type. Treadmill desk does not appeal to me at all (also see this article). Too many things to balance - walking, typing, staying in focus. Not to mention the noise which I can only imagine. Perhaps one day, but definitely this is not what I want or need now.

What’s my setup?

My company bought a bunch of used sis desks at a fraction of retail price. I use a laptop on a simple stand, external display, keyboard and mouse. That’s it. I don’t believe in increased multi-display efficiency, sometimes I just use laptop screen for logs. One big display setup suits me just fine and is very comfortable to work with when standing.

Desk and peripherals are not everything. You also need to make sure you’re standing comfortably. I’ve been using Crocs for a couple of months and they make great in-office shoes. They also feel comfortable enough for standing, though sometimes I just go bare foot. Other posts recommend anti-fatigue pads - I haven’t tried these yet but if I go standing for a couple more months I will be definitely getting one.

I use regular cheap office chair while sitting. It feels really comfortable if you set it right (height, angles). Actually, most cheap office chairs can be fine-tuned to keep your posture right.

Excercise ball

One last addition to my desk is an exercise ball. A simple & cheap one you can pick up at any gym / fitness store. After 2 weeks I’m not entirely convinced to this idea - sitting on the ball requires a lot of attention to the posture. Still an experiment for me, after some standing and sitting on a ball I still get back to regular chair to get some rest.

How much do I actually stand?

Every day is different. The minimum - start with at least an hour standing, sit for another hour. Keep the intervals for the remainder of the day. On a really good day (enough sleep etc) I stand for 5-6 hours. The best part is I don’t feel any more tired than when just sitting.

Getting a good night’s sleep is really important in this. You will never enjoy standing when you get to the office tired or, worse, hangover. Instead of forcing yourself to stand just take some time and relax first.

Music

I listen to music almost all the time. Not surprisingly music turned out to be a very important factor in motivating me to stand up and keep on bouncing a bit while standing. You may look weird but doing a little dancing to whatever’s rushing through your headphones is quite relaxing.

Get one too!

Standing desks are great, you should try one too. Start with a used desk or just setup something ad-hoc. Probably there’s a bunch of books or boxes lying around your office, apartment or co-working space to create something to experiment first. Enjoy!