A while ago on Facebook, I saw my friend Josh started to work standing up. He ditched his chair, put a small table on top of his work desk, and his laptop on top of that. I immediately thought this was a good idea and decided to have a go myself. I ditched my exercise ball and found a small, old table in the attic and placed it on top of my work desk, and then my iMac carefully on top of everything. There was just enough room for my keyboard and mouse.
A couple of months have passed since I had begun this experiment, so here are some insights.
Why work standing up in the first place? Humans are designed to move and stand up, not sit down. Sitting for extended periods of time won’t do you any good, as I have found out myself. Having been guilty of sitting for probably most of my wake hours in my early and mid twenties, I know the effects that sitting has on you. Believe me, you do not want to experience the pain caused by pinched nerves in your back. It ranks pretty high on my discomfort/pain list. This made me figure out the warning signs and taught me not to spend long periods of time in a chair. Since I’ve had my back problems, I’ve been extra careful and made sure I get enough of outdoors time and generally be more healthy.
Working standing up takes a bit of getting used to. My lower back was not too happy with the whole idea at first. Something I found useful was my Aikido experience, though I have very little. One thing I did learn in Aikido training was how to stand up and be relaxed at the same time. Proper posture helps you take the pressure of your back and makes your upper legs do the work instead.
I tend to work for an hour, or an hour and a half maybe, before taking a bit of a break. It’s almost like my body tells me I need to put things on pause. For me, this is a major plus, because I can use these small breaks to take my mind off what I am doing, take a brief walk, or just reassess things. When I was working sitting down, hours could literally fly by without me even noticing.
One huge plus for me is the psychological line that has been created: standing up = work, sitting down = rest. Your body learns this pretty quickly and you know that you’re supposed to work if you’re up on your feet, looking at the screen. I’m resting when I’m in a comfy chair, reading a book, or lying down in the dark, going through Instapaper articles.
As far as the downsides are concerned, I found none. Apart from the lower back discomfort, I had no pains or problems. The only thing that I’m missing is a proper desk, designed for standing up.
So, here I am, a couple of months into this experiment and I can now safely say I will continue to work standing up. I’m guessing I’ll love working like this during the winter days as well, because sitting down a lot does not help your circulation. I often had very cold hands and feet because of this.
Try it yourself if you haven’t and if anyone wants to share their experience or tips on working standing up, I’d love to hear your thoughts.