Do Standing Desks Make You More Productive?

It was an accident. I started to write while standing up. We’d moved back from China and most all our belongings were still at sea. Somewhere.  So I placed my laptop on the bookshelf and started to type. It was a bit improvised but I soon got the hang of it and managed to adjust to the correct height. Then something clicked. It felt right. I knew I ‘d never go back to a ‘normal’ desk again.

Benefits of Using a Standing Desk

Here’s more background info. After twenty years of sitting at a PC, I needed a change.
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Creative Commons License photo credit: kelly cree
My back had given out. I mean it was in real pain.

Bending was close to impossible. I shuffled around the house like an old man. At first it was funny – well for those watching, anyway – but soon the novelty wore off.

Things changed after I used the standing desk. After all, I still had to work. Note that the desk didn’t heal my lower back pain but I’m sure it helped reduce the stress of sitting down all day at the PC.

Humans are designed for standing, not sitting.

So, after experimenting for a few weeks with the standing desk, the benefits I feel are:

  • I surf the web less, but write more.
  • I don’t slouch over the PC. Try to slouch standing up!
  • I feel more alert.
  • I no longer drift off in the afternoons. Hard to doze when standing.
  • There is less, if any, lower back pain.
  • My eyes hurt less. This may be as I’m squinting less at the PC and/or the light is better where I work now.
  • I feel sharper, more energized.

Tips For Using a Standing Desk

While there are no serious risks or issues:

  • Try to stand straight. Learn to stand in a comfortable position and one that feels natural. Avoid poor standing positions.
  • If you create a DIY standing desk, make sure it is sturdy enough to hold your PC and things. I’ve seen some on the web and would be concerned that they may topple over, possibly hurting others and/or spilling hot coffee. Best to avoid. Invest in the best equipment you can afford.
  • Balance your standing and sitting time. You can’t stand all day long (well, I can’t) so keep the desk and chair. As always, balance is the key.
  • Make sure your wrists are in a comfortable position to avoid stress on the joints.

Getting Started

Some find it difficult to use the desk at first. I didn’t feel it that hard though I’ve always like to walk, so maybe I had a slight head start. Not sure, tbh.

Jamis at 37 Signals says on TreeHugger that, ‘I noticed an immediate increase in my ability to focus on a problem for longer, and with greater clarity. When I was blocked by some problem, I was able to just walk away from the desk, whereas before the effort of getting up from my chair often made me prefer to just sit and stew in my frustration.”

So, if you’ve been chained to a desk for many years, take is slowly.

Give yourself two weeks to really get into it. Pains in your lower back will start to melt and your legs will get stronger.

I also found that I was more focussed. I got down to work faster. Surfing was fine, for example, but I didn’t enjoy it as much.

Famous People Who Use Standing Desks

Some of these include:

  • Benjamin Franklin
  • Donald Rumsfeld
  • Ernest Hemingway
  • Leonardo da Vinci
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • Vladimir Nabokov
  • Winston Churchill

Where to get a Standing Desk?

Here in Europe, you can get them in IKEA. Not sure if you have those in the US.

Other options are to modify your current desk or get one made by a local carpenter. One compromise is to get him to use your existing desk and add sliders that let you move the desk up and down.

That way you can stand for a few hours and then, when tired, sit down again. Folks on the web have done this for about $150, some for much less.

Let me know if you try it and how you get on.