Sitting too long is bad for your health, and for craft business owners this problem is compounded because both our jobs and our hobbies often involve sitting. One solution that has gained popularity is the standing desk. Standing desks can take the sedentary out of computer work, and I’ve found that standing for even an hour or two decreases how sluggish I feel after a long day of work.
Keep an Eye on Ergonomics
A number of standing desk solutions are available, ranging from cheap improvisations to custom, adjustable setups. Whether you invest in a four-figure desk or a twenty dollar hack, it’s important that the desk height work for your body. In particular, attend to the angle your wrist makes with the desk surface. Your wrists should be straight, with hands at or slightly below elbow level (between 90 and 110 degrees is ideal).
To reduce neck strain, make sure your computer monitor is directly in front of you. If you use two monitors, center the primary one and place the second monitor right next to it. If you use both equally, then center both. Your monitor(s) should be at or slightly below eye level and one arm’s length away. If it’s further than that, you’ll lean forward and squint, which can cause neck pain. To check the distance, reach out your hand and see if your fingertips graze the monitor.
Finally, make sure your mouse and frequently-used office supplies are conveniently located. For keyboards with number pads, the board itself may wind up off-center, but you want to keep yourself as centered as possible. Of course, these principles also apply to regular desks. Whatever setup you use, now may be a good time to do a quick assessment of your current work environment.
Ways to Make a Standing Desk Work for You
When you’re first adjusting to a standing desk, it can be difficult to stand for an entire day or even a half day. A chef’s mat is a cushioned mat that chefs use to ease the strain of standing on their feet all day, and can be a worthwhile investment. Many standing desk converts also swear by the targeted use of a bar stool, which breaks up the time they spend standing. When not in use, simply store beneath your desk.
If you don’t like using a desktop or have certain situations where your laptop just makes more sense, you can still configure a standing desk to fit that scenario. Some people create separate work stations for their laptop, such as a L-shaped desk where each leg is set to a different height. You can also utilize a portable standing setup that easily converts to a seated option (see below for ideas).
Testing It Out
Not convinced a standing desk is for you? There are many ways to test out the concept before investing in a permanent solution. Computers can be placed on sturdy baskets, cardboard boxes, or a stack of books to approximate the right height. I have a former colleague who placed her laptop on a TV tray. When she wanted to sit, she simply folded it away. For me, I wanted a taller monitor, so I set my laptop on a cardboard box and placed a freestanding keyboard on stacks of copy paper. When I felt like sitting, I unplugged the keyboard and shifted to the center of my desk, which I kept clear for this very purpose. If you’d like to play around with raising your entire desk, blocks of wood, bed risers, or even a low shelf can be used to raise the height.
When you convert your hobby into a business, there can be so many ways work takes you away from the very thing you love. Don’t let sitting for long stretches of time be one of them.