More productive at a standing deskI’ve been thinking about it for a while, but I finally took the plunge and created a standing desk workspace for myself. I’m just wrapping up the first month and the differences are pretty dramatic. There is no going back.

This change is the culmination of decades of in-depth personal research which led me to the inescapable conclusion that sitting in front of a computer for extensive periods each day is possibly the most destructive thing you can do to your body – aside from becoming a bull-rider or meth addict (disclaimer: I have no experience with either).

I’ve finally woken up to the fact that my computer – conspiring with gravity – is slowly warping my low back, neck, shoulders, wrists, hips, and legs into painful, unhealthy shapes. I heard someone say, “Sitting is the new smoking.” How true. It was time to take a stand in hopes of slowing down and hopefully reversing the destruction.

Here are my observations thus far:

It feels good
Standing up straight and tall with my eyes level forward feels good. It is energizing and I feel like I can breathe. One of the key reasons we develop unhealthy breathing habits is that we spend most of the day sitting folded in half at a the waist.

I’m more purposeful and productive
Standing at my desk in front of a computer is not a place to chill out, relax, or daydream. I’m there to accomplish something specific and it is much easier to stay on task. If I’m tired, foggy or tapped out, sitting in a high-back, tilt-back chair lends itself much more easily to time-wasting vegetative states. It is really hard to nap at a standing desk.

I feel more creative
I love to pace when I’m thinking, creating, and problem solving. Having a stand-up workstation allows me to wander around, pace and easily come back to my desk to make notes or write down ideas. Is seems like a small thing but I’ve been surprised at how much difference that makes.

I’m more conscious about taking breaks
Standing is more taxing than sitting of course (that is if you ignore the cumulative destruction) and I find I’m much more conscious about taking short breaks to sit or move around a bit more. This helps to reinforce the habit of working in shorter sprints of 1 1/2 to 2 hours which the research shows makes us much more productive, and creative.

It does take some getting used to
It was a minor shock to my body for the first couple of days. I had some sore muscles I hadn’t had before, but that subsided after a few days. One thing I quickly discovered on day 1, was that buying a high quality standing mat of the kind that chefs and others who stand in place for long hours on hard surfaces use ($50-$100), was absolutely critical. It made an immediate difference. I’ve been meaning to add a stool to sit on when needed, but so far it hasn’t been necessary.

There are any number of spendy, adjustable, stand-up work stations, but there are also many inventive cheaper solutions. I have a “L” shaped desk that works well for my multiple uses that I wanted to keep, so I had a second top built for it ($175) that sits on legs on top of the old desk. This works great as I have a tremendous amount of new storage space between the two tops and that allows me to more easily keep my working desktop free of clutter.

All in all, making the switch has made a huge difference. I feel better and am more productive, efficient and purposeful while I’m working. All for an investment of less than $300 (not to mention the chiropractic savings)!

Are you currently using a standing desk? We’d love to hear about your experience!