It’s been almost 2 years since I built my standing desk at work. I built it with parts available from IKEA:
Why I switched to a standing desk
I didn’t switch to this setup because I wanted to stand all day; rather I wanted to avoid sitting all day. With my standing desk, I can choose multiple working positions: standing, leaning, sitting, standing with one foot up, etc… When you sit, you’re limited to one posture; when you stand, you have more flexibility.
Furthermore, there are health benefits to a standing desk: studies have shown that sitting at a desk all day causes a number of health problems, and that folks who use standing desks burn more calories.
A review of my experience; 2 years after switching to a standing desk
It’s been great, and I’m not going back. I genuinely have more energy with this set-up. I find I’m able to maintain my focus throughout a full workday.
I also feel less stuck. When I was sitting, I would continue sitting, even if I wasn’t accomplishing anything productive. Now, if I find myself stagnating, I can step away and do something else: I go make a pot of coffee, or do some stretches.
The VIKA BYSKE set-up is not for everyone. First: you’ll have to be fairly short to use the legs (they have a max length of 42″). Second: the table can be quite wobbly if it’s not anchored to the wall (see a video of me shaking my desk here).
Why some people quit; and how you can avoid it
I know a lot of people that made the switch, but quit shortly after. If you’re going to switch: be prepared for a transition period. There are 3 keys to success at the beginning:
- Purchase an anti-fatigue mat and a bar stool. Don’t skip this step!
- Take it easy: don’t try to stand the whole day! Use the bar stool to sit and lean on, and give your legs a break.
- Raise your monitor off the desk. Again: I’m 5’8 tall. My desk is 42 1/4″ high. I raise my monitors an additional 6-7 inches off my desk. Here’s a good diagram.
We need to think of our desks as workstations.
In reality, we do all sorts of things at our desks that aren’t real work (or affect our ability to produce our best work).
Here are things I’m trying to quit doing at my desk:
- Thinking: Nobody does their best thinking sitting at their desk. When you reflect on your biggest “Ah-Ha!” moments, how many of them occurred while you were staring at a screen? If you’re like me, your best thinking happens when you’re not at your desk: taking a walk, going and asking another person for help, drinking a coffee, in the shower. Your desk is for executing; do your thinking elsewhere.
- Socializing: When I sit down at my desk, I want to be in work mode. I want to prioritize my most important tasks, and then complete them with the fastest velocity possible. Socializing while I’m at my desk sullies the purity of the workstation. This is why the water cooler is actually a brilliant social construct: when you want to hang out, you can get up from your workstation and go to the socialstation. I think every office should have a socialstation, a place (or time in the morning) where team members can hang out, and talk informally.
- Procrastinating: Check Facebook, check Twitter, go on YouTube, check email, mindlessly read blog posts. I think that breaks, and downtime, are important in a work day. But again: I think maintaing the purity of my desk as a place where I work is important. If I need some “mindless” time, I think it’s better to walk away from my desk and have a place and time limit where I do that. It’s also important that we catch ourselves when procrastinating and ask ourselves: “Why?” Are we procrastinating because we’re tired? Hungry? Bored? Are we stuck on a problem? Are we just feeling lethargic and need to get up and move around? Figure out what’s at the source of your mindless net browsing, and deal with the problem.
- Sitting: for the past 18 months I’ve been using a standing desk. I’ve realized that the best part isn’t that I’m standing all day; it’s that I’m not sitting. A standing desk allows you to stand, sit, lean, and put one leg up while you’re at your workstation. Even better, I’ve felt more freedom to just walk away when I’m faced with a problem and need to do some thinking (or when I’m tired and need a break).
Many writers maintain a private writing hut. The hut has one purpose: it’s the place they go to write. They don’t do anything else there. Once they can’t write any more, they go do something else. I think we need to think of our desks in the same way: these are places where we get work done.
What do you think?
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Stand while you work. After months of experimenting at home, I recently built myself a “standing desk” for the office.