Top Ten Standing Desk Tips
1. GET A STANDING DESK.
The evidence is clear and overwhelming. If you don't have a standing desk, you should get one. Ideally a height adjustable standing desk, but if that doesn't work for you, an adjustable laptop stand or even a DIY makeshift standing desk will work. For your health and productivity, you owe it to yourself.
2. SET YOUR DESK UP CORRECTLY.
At the right standing height, your elbows should be close to a 90-degree angle. So, for most people, this means the desk table top should be at or just below your elbows when you are standing at your desk. For myself, I find the optimal table top height is just below my elbows, but I sometimes make small adjustments to change things up (this is another reason why it is ideal to have an easily adjustable standing desk).
The monitor should be at eye level and directly in front of you. Experts say 28 inches is optimal, but everybody is a little different (and our eye strength is too), so as a quick check, put your arm out in front of you and you should be close to touching the monitor. You shouldn't be straining your eyes or your neck.
3. GET A STANDING DESK MAT.
We have another blog post that goes into more detail here. It's a small thing that makes a big difference, especially when transitioning into standing from years of sitting. And speaking of transitioning....
4. TRANSITION INTO YOUR DESK SLOWLY.
The transition will be different for everybody, depending on how much you are used to standing. Try the 1-2-3 method (written more about here). The transition from 1 hour standing periods to 2-hour standing periods, to 3 hour standing periods. You might try two 1-hour standing periods a day during the first week, two 2-hour standing periods a day during the second week, and finally two 3-hour standing periods during the third week. It might take you 3 weeks, or it might take you 3 months, but in the end, you'll be a whole lot healthier and more productive.
5. SET GOALS.
Especially if you're not used to standing, it may be helpful to set goals or targets for your standing segments. For example, if you are normally standing for 2 hour periods, and you are working on a task that should take that long, commit to yourself that you will stand until you finish it. The staff at read-write tried this with standing desks with great success. If you do a lot of shorter tasks and want something simpler, you could always just set up a timer or watch the clock.
6. PERFECT YOUR POSTURE.
Try to be aware of your posture. Feet straight forward, shoulders back, head up and neutral, back flat, belly tight, and a slight bend in your knees. There's no need flex, or pose, to overthink, or overstress, just try to be aware of these things when you're at your desk. Listen to your body. Soon, it will be second nature and something that you subconsciously do.
7. SHOULDER ROLLS.
It takes ten seconds to perform, max, and consists of moving your shoulder forward, up, as far back as possible, and then allowing your shoulder blade to slide gently down your spine. Repeat for the other shoulder. Do this every time you find your shoulders slumping forward. Eventually, your shoulders will begin to naturally rest in a more retracted, stable position. Special note: you should start the move with your shoulders forward and end up them BACK. Do NOT start with your shoulders back and roll them forward - this 'slouched' forward position (common with sitters) you end up in is what we are trying to get away from.
8. FIDGETING IS OKAY.
You shouldn't be standing motionless at attention while at your standing desk. Moving is good. Take advantage of your new standing position and fidget or move as you see fit. Your body naturally knows what is good for it. If your subconscious is telling you to fidget, that's probably a good thing, and it will likely help, not hinder your productivity, in additional to being healthier for yours. Likewise, it's natural and okay to be moving and shifting your weight from one leg to the other. MOVING IS GOOD!
Not only is fidgeting throughout the day okay, but you can take special breaks to stretch also. And since most stretches require you to stand (and get out of a chair), you're already halfway there. See the image below for some easy (and quick!) stretches you can do. We'll post more detailed standing desk stretches in future posts!
Seems funny we would have this as a tip, but sometimes people feel guilty for ANY sitting they do. Sitting for short periods (under 40-50 minutes according to most experts) is OKAY. And some people have reported that certain work (heavy logical or critical thinking) is easier to do while sitting. The main thing is that you get back up after sitting. After all, you're a 'stander'!