The other month I posted plans and a tutorial on how to build your very own standing desk/work cart. Now I am writing about why I am ditching this set up.
So how is it that I can go from wanting a standing desk to wanting the furthest thing from it? Experience of using one. There are many things that a standing desk does to just get in the way for those of us that rely on getting in the zone and getting touch problems solved using our computers. That isn’t to say that a standing desk is a bad idea, but I certainly don’t believe it to be the end all be all for those that need to focus for hours while working.
Fatigue, your new distraction
“Focus for hours?” you say? Well I agree, rarely would I say anyone gets that involved in their work that they are in the zone and working for that amount of time. However, you cannot control when you become fatigued and when you will be in the zone. Thus the first major problem I have is that routinely after working for some time I will start to get into a good work flow and just about that time my legs or back start to hurt just enough to fully distract me from my task at hand. What about switching to a chair or a stool when this happens? Well the problem for me is that by that time, my work flow has been impeded enough that I can never enter that flow state when I can get the most accomplished. It resets my brain and makes it hard to get back to work.
This goes even when sitting down because at the time I realize I am fatigued it’s too late and now my body’s sensory system is constantly reminding me that I need to rest my legs or back. The worst part is that for me, setting a timer or anything else to remind myself to sit would become a distraction to break me out of being in ‘the zone’. So tasks that require longer periods of time become problematic because maybe you have been standing only for 10 minutes before you get focused or maybe it’s been an hour and a half before you start to really get things done. Either way you have no control and being jarred out or never entering this work state is a huge productivity killer.
Sick? May as well stay in bed.
Have a cold? Forget it. A cold, allergies or any condition that makes you fatigued faster will kill productivity faster than anything. I have been sick and attempted to use my standing desk, and sitting high or standing was the last thing I wanted to do. My concentration was already reduced by head congestion and all I wanted to do was kick back and work. So I did that, on my couch, using my laptop; instead of my awesome desktop that I built and found I use less since changing my desk style. Why? Because more often than not, fatigue has set in before I even start to get work done. Very frustrating.
If you do not stand for long periods of time, do you recall what your legs feel like after doing so for a while? That heavy, swollen feeling? Well that happens all the time. In addition I can say that without measuring or noticing anything prominent, there were times when I thought my legs felt rather swollen. Again, like other signs of fatigue, this becomes a distraction late enough that I can’t ignore it once it’s set. Once noticed, no amount of stretching or walking it off seems to help fast enough to get back to work. I assume that if I stand long enough, regularly enough, varicose veins would be a real threat and others who use standing desks have reported this issue themselves. No thanks, I would rather find movement elsewhere than try to move at my desk while working to work around this hassle and possible new health condition.
Other than fatigue?
Is there anything else other than fatigue and distraction that makes a standing desk a no go? Well other than the varicose vein potential and possible other repetitive stress issues you may experience from standing more than we probably should in one stint, no. My main issue is that you don’t have control over when you will fell fatigue and thus can’t control your productivity. This has hindered my productivity enough at home that I feel as if I can’t get the same work done as before. So I muddle through halfheartedly not even fully enjoying the work that I would otherwise. This also makes it a complete moral killer for me.
So Who Are Standing Desks For?
I feel standing desks are more or less a fad for those that do ‘heavy lifting’ on computers. What I mean by that is any task that requires long periods of screen while being focused and concentrating on the task at hand.
I could see standing desks with chairs work well for those that use computers more lightly or for varied tasks. Anything that doesn’t require too deep of an attention span. I am sure these would work great for anyone that uses a computer to do many small tasks instead of routinely large tasks which require undivided attention. Of course I am sure some folks with a high sensitivity to their bodies and enough willpower to continually focus would find them a good way to negate sitting all day. Each person is different, which is why I would advise you to actually try this yourself before writing it off. Maybe you can do this and it will work wonders for your health. However, not so much for myself.
What do you plan to do now?
So if sitting is terrible for us, what do I plan to do to negate the problems of sitting in an office all day and then working more on computers when I get home? Well for times I know I will work on varied tasks, small items that clearly won’t take a lot of deep concentration, I will start to remind myself to stand up and move around when changing tasks. Then I can sit partially guilt free for the longer tasks. I haven’t tried yet, but I think using timers or reminders to move only while working on small tasks would help greatly. There is no reason why I can’t stop and go for a quick lap around the office when I’m going through email.
Another item, that I usually do regardless, is prop my feet up and lean back in my chair. Their have been studies that show angling your back to 135 degrees and lessening the hard 90 degree angle for your legs helps take strain off your back and increases blood flow (in your legs). This is how I naturally like to use computers so I think I will continue to use this since it’s what I am most comfortable with. When it’s time to work, nothing is better than kicking back while doing it.
But what about my current standing desk that I made? Well I plan to tear it apart and rebuild it to a standard desk height and pick up a comfortable high back office chair with headrest. Then I can recline at home as well. In addition, I will resolve to finally start regularly exercising like I know I should, and also continue to eat healthy. Yes, that means a lot of fruits and vegetables and not a lot of prepackaged or precooked food. This should help combat the evils of sitting good enough that I don’t feel endangered by sitting so much. But ultimately I know that my career requires what now is considered by many to be unhealthy levels of sitting. This is just something that comes with most desk jobs these days. Perhaps in the future there will be a better way to handle the time required to sit and work and to be active. For now, reclining and reminding myself to move along with a healthy diet and exercise is my only defense.
Have you tried a standing desk? If so did you like it and keep it or try something else? Let everyone know in the comments! Also, if you enjoyed this article, please don’t forget to like, subscribe and share it!