After three months of using a standing desk, I came to a realization:
I’m a lazy bastard who likes to sit down while writing.
I switched over to a standing desk mostly because, even in a great chair, sitting all day is uncomfortable. Plus, according to reams of research, sitting is hell on your health (Here’s a convenient if sensational infographic on the dangers of sitting)
Proponents state that standing desks will help you with your focus, attention, energy levels, and weight loss. After three months, I can say that they’re mostly correct. When I could actually bring myself to use the standing desk, I felt better than if I had sat for the same length of time. Back, butt, and leg fatigue was no longer an issue. And even though I wasn’t trying, I lost five pounds during the first month.
The problem was that I simply avoided my desk altogether. Almost all the writing I’ve done over the past few months I did while kicking back in a recliner, using either laptop or legal pad. This is okay, but I think I prefer hunching over a flat, open workspace, good posture be damned.
What I liked about the standing desk
The standing desk definitely has its benefits. Humans were made to walk. Walking will even improve your cognitive function. We’re not meant to sit in a chair and gaze at a glowing screen for hours at a time. The standing desk mostly eliminates the problems associated with sedentary knowledge work. A few other things I found during my three month standing desk experiment:
- I could work longer with less fatigue, but as I said, I found myself avoiding work altogether. Two steps forward, two steps back.
- Because of the two-tiered setup, I could kind of sit down and work (though it felt like sitting in the front row at a movie theater)
- Extra storage on the lower level meant less crap on my desk.
- I was less likely to engage in pointless websurfing.
Problems with my standing desk setup
Besides the weird aversion I developed to using the standing desk, I had a few other problems with my setup.
- Rickety hillbilly engineering. I can’t afford a geekdesk right now, so I placed a scrounged tabletop upon two plastic bins which sat on my usual desk (an old kitchen table). I nearly tipped the desk over a couple times by leaning on it. The result would’ve been an expensive disaster.
- Forced wearing of shoes. With the standing desk, an anti-fatigue mat and good shoes are vital to preventing leg pain. Unfortunately, I love being barefoot (I’m from Appalachia. I can’t help it).
- Less work space. Because I used the materials I had on hand, a weird cut in the tabletop decreased the size of my work surface.
How I could make the standing desk work
For now, I’m back to an old school sitting desk, but I have plans to work out some kind of DIY solution. Right now, I’m thinking I could
- Build something, preferably with the option to raise and lower the work surface.
- Use a (non-swivel) bar stool. This seems like a good option, but could result in inadvertent drinking.
- Use the same setup and wear platform shoes or stand on a pile of carpets (not likely).
Should you use a standing desk?
I say give it a shot, especially if you find sitting in a chair all day makes your back, butt, and legs howl like a drunken coyote in heat.
The cheapest and easiest way to experiment with a standing desk setup is to place a large flat-topped storage bin on your desk or kitchen table. The work surface should be about even with your belly button, your arms bent about 90 degrees at the elbow.
A few things to note:
- Look for ways to alternate between sitting and standing. As with most other things, the middle path is usually the most pleasant.
- For people who’ve always sat, you’ll probably experience new pains during the first few days. They’ll probably subside. (I’m not a doctor. Just advice. Don’t sue me. Thanks).
- With a standing setup, anti-fatigue mats are worth their weight in cheese.
If the experiment goes well, you could purchase a Geekdesk, order a custom desk, order an affordable standing desk from Amazon, convert your desk with an Ergo-Stand, or buy an adjustable height desk frame.
More Standing Desk Resources:
Filed under: decidedly first-world problems?