Monday, June 23, 2014

Stand Up for Yourself

By Linda Rohrbough


I spend a lot of time sitting, literally. And I’m tired of it. Here are the gyrations I’ve gone through to find a more active way to work.
I heard about the treadmill desk. What a concept. Walking slowly and brainlessly as I work. Burning calories while I’m distracted. Love that idea.
But I’m cheap. I don’t mind spending a grand or two on something I know will work. But I can’t bring myself to blow that kind of dough on an experiment. Especially one that means getting rid of my current desk, which I love and would miss.
So I bought a used treadmill from some people who were moving to the beach (lucky them). It folded up and had wheels so it could be moved. With help, I schlepped it up to my office in my townhome and put it behind my desk. It was a big, dark behemoth of a contraption. I bought a glass cube from a store that sells used retail store supplies and put my monitor up on it to get it high enough to see above the treadmill display. I got a board and used tape to put it across the arms of the treadmill for the keyboard and mouse. I tried this arrangement for exactly one week.
I learned a lot of things. Even at a slow pace, I bounce up and down when I walk. I didn’t know that. Makes it tough to see what I’m doing as text can get blurry. Also, I concentrate pretty intensely when I’m writing something new, so I either trip myself or I can’t get the level of concentration I need to do the work at all. Plus, I forgot I like to work without shoes on, until I tried the treadmill barefoot. I ended up turning the thing off and standing.
I found, however, I could work well on things like email and web-surfing by standing still. These are things that don’t require as much concentration as writing fresh material.
So I put the treadmill into the garage and sold it for a little more than I paid for it not too long before Christmas. That made someone else happy and paid for all the peripheral stuff I bought for the experiment.
Learning that I can stand and be productive for some tasks gave me hope. Sure, I’d burn more calories walking, but just standing burns more calories than sitting. Plus, someone said there are hormones that are secreted when you use your legs that help with metabolism. Of course, standing all the time is not good, either. I realized that I need to be able to stand part of the time and sit part of the time.
In a perfect world, I’d get one of those 60-inch flat screen TVs that can also act as a monitor and put it up on the wall. Then I’d find a way to get my keyboard at standing height and get an electronic device to switch between my monitor and the TV on the wall when I wanted to stand.
This isn’t a perfect world.
Did I mention my penchant for not spending a lot of money on things I’m not sure will work?
A family member reminded me I have a data projector that lives in a bag in my closet except for when I’m speaking at a conference. Why not try that as the monitor to see if this sit-stand thing will work? I love that projector and so do most of the groups where I speak (because they don’t have to rent a projector). It’s bright enough to show a very respectable image even on wallpaper in a poorly lit hotel room, which is often where I end up.
The rub is finding an arrangement where I can get my keyboard up at standing height when I want it there. At 5’7” I need a keyboard stand that’s about 42” off the floor. What I found is a rolling, adjustable hospital bed tray on eBay. That tray, set at its tallest setting, now stands beside my chair and the projector is set up and ready to go at a moment’s notice.
This arrangement works pretty well. I can quickly turn on the projector, then switch so the computer image goes to the projector rather than the monitor. I got a second USB keyboard for the rolling tray table so I don’t have to move the keyboard and mouse. I found, however, that I want to put my foot up on something, so I got a couple yoga blocks, since I work a lot barefoot or in socks. The visual clutter, while increased, is minimal, especially compared to the treadmill.
I’ve been using this setup for over a month now and I like it. I acquired a stand for the projector so I can put papers under it and I don’t lose as much desk space. I am starting to see contraptions for sit-stand arrangements aimed at “knowledge workers.” So I’m holding off on the big screen TV for a while in case something better makes itself known.
So that’s my journey. How about you? Have any of you tried sit-stand arrangements? How’s it working for you? Inquiring minds want to know.


About the Author: Linda Rohrbough has been writing since 1989, and has more than 5,000 articles and seven books to her credit along with national awards for her fiction and non-fiction. New York Times #1 bestselling author Debbie Macomber said about Linda’s new novel: "This is fast-paced, thrilling, edge-of-the-seat reading. The Prophetess One: At Risk had me flipping the pages and holding my breath." The Prophetess One: At Risk has garnered three national awards: the 2012 International Book Award, the 2011 Global eBook Award, and the 2011 Millennium Star Publishing Award. An iPhone App of her popular “Pitch Your Book” workshop is available in the Apple iTunes store. Visit her website: www.LindaRohrbough.com.