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Working standing up - Helen's journal and online home
In which an old dog attempts to learn new tricks.
Working standing up
So, in my last post I explained why I don't think that treadmill desks are the answer -- not for me, anyway and probably not for the majority. If it works for you, that's fine. There is no One Size Fits All.

However, standing up to work did seem to have a lot of potential and has a respectable history. Thank you readthisandweep for this list of other writers who regularly worked at standing desks:

"...the fact is, several well known writers wrote standing up: Lewis Carroll, Winston Churchill, Charles Dickens, Ernest Hemingway & George Sand all wrote standing up. And apparently, Philip Roth does today."

What is more, I remembered that for quite a few years as a young mother, I wrote standing up too. It wasn't actually for exercise and health reasons in those days; my job involved plenty of standing and walking. No, I did it because if I sat down to write, the children and cats would make a beeline for me because I was plainly off duty and thus should be attending to them. If I was standing up, on the other hand, I was working and they left me alone, by and large. So, back in the early 80s, I improvised a standing desk by putting the typewriter (yes, pre computer!) on an upturned washing up bowl on the kitchen work surface. This worked surprisingly well, so I started looking around the house to see what I could improvise now. And I came up with...

From Illustrations for blog posts

Yes, it is rather Heath Robinson :) but it works absolutely fine, didn't cost a penny and is quickly and easily assembled and dismantled as required. Basically it's the middle sized table from a nest of three standing on a basket chair with the laptop sitting on a lap-tray on top. I've been using this set up for a couple of months and did the last batch of marking mostly standing up.[*] I find that I can shift my position slightly even as I type and also when thinking, I can take a few steps back and forth, which is not exactly giving me any exercise, but it is keeping the circulation moving and stops me getting stiff from sitting or standing in one position for too long.

If my back or legs start to feel tired, I just pick up the lap-tray, take a couple of steps to the right and sit on the sofa for a while. When I feel rested, I simply move back to the standing desk.

From Illustrations for blog posts

Voila! A little movement introduced to my working day. Of course the laptop doesn't have all the programs I use and no Internet, so I had to think about the desktop too, but I'll post about that tomorrow...

[*]The other thing about the laptop is that it is that rare beast a standalone computer. It has no connection to the Internet. We don't have wireless and so I can work without being distracted by checking LJ/Google+/Twitter just one more time to see if anyone has posted anything new and interesting.

[Because LiveJournal still sometimes seems a bit wobbly, this was posted to Dreamwidth http://heleninwales.dreamwidth.org/7899.html and then crossposted to LJ. If you want to leave a comment, please use whichever site you find most convenient. Comments so far: comment count unavailable.]

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Current Mood: accomplished accomplished

8 comments or Leave a comment
dendrophilous From: dendrophilous Date: September 5th, 2011 04:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
Good solution.

I bought this desk because I'm short, and it was highly adjustable--it consists of three metal rails against the wall, with slots about an inch apart for shelves. So I constructed a very short desk for me to sit at without needed a footstool.

Then I decided to try working while standing up, and it was very easy to just raise the desktop a few inches. The downside is that while it's easy to adjust, it does involve turning of the computer and unplugging everything and taking everything off the desktop, so I never put it back down so I can sit. So it gets annoying on weekends, when I haven't been sitting all day at the office. But maybe that's a benefit, because it makes me less inclined to spend my nonwriting time playing on the computer instead of doing something more constructive.

I was going to comment on your previous post--I saw one of those fitness playground type things (like they have by jogging trails, with various pull-up bars and crunch benches) that had "treadmills" made out of rows of dowels. If you walked, you'd rotate the dowels and stay in one place, but of course you could stand still if you wanted. Something like that could be interesting as a walking desk.
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: September 6th, 2011 09:08 am (UTC) (Link)
Ideally you'd want a desk that could be raised and lowered without having to take everything off it, but that gets us back to the expensive solutions! Otherwise I suppose you could get a high chair and footstool and sit at the desk in the raised position.

Before rejecting treadmills as unworkable, I did seriously contemplate a manual treadmill, partly because they're smaller, but they're also a lot cheaper. However, after reading reviews of them it became apparent that you need to hold onto something while walking. Typing and mousing was going to be impossible if the treadmill wasn't a motorised one.
dendrophilous From: dendrophilous Date: September 7th, 2011 01:14 am (UTC) (Link)
Yes, one that would raise and lower at the touch of a button would be awesome.

I've thought about getting a bar stool. I should keep my eye open for furniture sales. I do have a wireless mouse and keyboard, so I sometimes sit in a regular chair, but that's not very good for long periods.
scallywag195 From: scallywag195 Date: September 5th, 2011 09:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
Great pictures. I couldn't do it, though. I have an old injury which flares up if I stand still for long periods, so I save standing for necessary things like doing dishes and folding laundry. I write in a ratty old recliner chair, dubbed "The Blue Chair" because it gives my back great support in the slanting backwards position I need.
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: September 6th, 2011 09:13 am (UTC) (Link)
I read somewhere else recently that reclining is actually a good postion for typing.

The thing that these fans of walking and standing desks forget is that different people have different needs. Ideally people need to be able to arrange their working space to suit their own needs, but it's so easy to just go along with what everyone else does and especially in offices, things are not always set up in a good way.
hairmonger From: hairmonger Date: September 16th, 2011 11:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
[tangent] You stand to fold laundry? I sit on the couch, with the basket at my feet, making folded piles on either side of me. I can't fold sheets that way, of course. [/tangent]

Mary Anne in Kentucky
feodora From: feodora Date: September 6th, 2011 09:05 am (UTC) (Link)
Some places at the main office have tables which can be lift up (electric). I like to work at it, not only that I can work standing if I want to but also that I can lift the desk to a suitable hight when I am sitting as most of the tables are to low for an over 6 ft (1,86 m).
Mostly I stay in the morning, where I just flip though my mails and notes and do only minor writing and mouse using. When I really start working (Excel, Mail, PowerPoint, Procet...) I like to sit.

Edited at 2011-09-06 09:06 am (UTC)
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: September 6th, 2011 09:24 am (UTC) (Link)
That's an ideal work situation. Everyone can arrange the height to suit themselves and change it easily through the day. In the offices where I've worked,as a small person 5ft 3in (1.60 m), I can always raise the seat to make it right for the desk, but then my feet dangle above the floor!
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