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My New Standing Desk


My New Standing Desk

Thomas Whitley

Well, technically, it's not new. I've had the Ikea desk for 5 years now. I decided a few weeks ago, though, to try out a standing desk and wanted it to be economical (remember, I am a PhD student). As a student, I live a fairly sedentary life, regularly sitting at my desk for 8-10 hours a day with few breaks. All of the research of late making the point that sitting is bad for you health prompted me, as did some weight gain even as I workout regularly and run (a little less regularly).

So, I raised the desk as high as it could be, but was still some 8 inches short for the proper placement of my keyboard. My fantastically brilliant wife had the idea of building nesting shelves. The larger and taller shelf would hold my computer and the other shelf would hold my wireless keyboard (which we already had) and my wireless trackpad (which I bought). We built the shelves out of a single piece of 1 x 12, then sanded and stained them. I have a particular affinity for dark stained wood (as can be seen in our apartment and in the wooden tray on the desk). The shelves are built such that the keyboard and trackpad can remain on the lower shelf while it is slid under the upper shelf, giving me more desk space and a cleaner look. I also purchased the mStand Laptop Stand by Rain Design, based on Sam's recommendation to get my screen at an appropriate height and an anti-fatigue mat.

The result is cost-effective and a somewhat minimalist standing desk that is appropriately ergonomic. I am able to store 2 white Ikea boxes that hold regularly used supplies as well as my backup hard drive under both shelves when the lower shelf is pushed in and my Blue Snowball mic that I use to record Thinking Religion sits nicely on the upper shelf.

Because I was out of town for much of last week, I have only had a few days working full time at my new standing desk, but have noticed a few things already.

  1. My knees and feet are sore. This was somewhat surprising to me, as I stand a lot during activities like watching tv. This is no match for standing for a full work day, however. I expect this to dissipate some over time. If it does not, I'll probably try a different anti-fatigue mat.
  2. I move around a lot more. I fidget, I squat, I walk around the room. I have found myself walking around to think whereas I used to lean back in my chair. I'm even quicker to pull a book off the shelf (which, because of space constraints, often means walking to another room in the apartment).
  3. It's easy to forget about posture. I try to stand upright, shoulders back, etc. but often find myself needing adjustment. I still think that my overall posture is better than when I sit and hunch over my laptop.
  4. I feel less guilty when I do sit. Because I'm standing so much, sitting for lunch or to watch a game on tv or at my desk on campus is simply a nice change and I don't think, "I should be standing or moving around." After all, being in one position without moving, regardless the position, is not good for you. Standing, sitting, walking around, squatting, etc. are all important parts of a healthy routine.

So far I'm happy with my transition. We'll see how I feel in 6 weeks or 6 months.

1. Yes, that is the latest issue of Esquire with Nick Offerman and Chelsea Handler naked on the cover.
2. That is a Swedish flag. I'm a German-American, but Sweden has a special place in my heart for many reasons and so I'm currently showing my support and affinity for the country (and some particular inhabitants) with their flag over my desk.

3. The picture was taken on my iPhone 6 Plus..