I’m not big on New Year’s Resolutions for the same reason I don’t believe in diets. If you can’t sustain change, making it in the first place is pretty pointless. So I don’t generally make resolutions, though I do sometimes take the impetus to change that a new year provides and I make something happen. This year I made one, easy to keep resolution: to finally get around to changing out the faucet in my downstairs bathroom. But I also decided to make a bigger change in the way I work, a decision that was driven by the media coverage surrounding the dangers of sitting.
Yes, sitting is apparently the “new smoking.”
I work from home which both allows me to be more active, and more lazy than the average employee.Yes, I take my dog for a lengthy walk in the middle of the day — when most office workers are stuffing their faces with lunch under fluorescent lights — but I also don’t have to get up and walk to co-workers’ offices or desks. I do get up a lot to let the dog or cats out (or in), and sometimes I do chores for a quick work-break. Toss in a load of laundry, empty the dishwasher, or vacuum the living room. Still, that wasn’t enough to keep my back from being enraged at the end of the day. I bought a yoga Groupon but that membership has ended and I needed a new solution to help me feel better at the end of the workday.
Typically, I drag myself out of bed in the morning and plunk myself down on my couch to work… despite having a dedicated office. I just really didn’t like being in my office. The crappy particle board desk I’d taken when we closed our actual office didn’t fare well on the trip to my house. And it faced a wall. And much of the rest of my office has become a dumping ground for odds and ends and inevitably gets messy quickly. So I spent a lot of 2012 thinking about overhauling the office but not really doing it. The more I heard about the perils of sitting, the more I thought about trying to make my work space healthier.
Then, my buddies over at WNPR, did a show about “The Perils of Inactivity” and talked about their conversions to standing desks. I know that, in June, I’m probably a model of activity. I go outside every few hours to tend to my garden, or play with the dog in addition to my normal long walks. But in January… not so much. So as the new year approached, I decided it was time to do something about my office and I turned to Ikea to make it happen.
There’s tons of info out there about why you should convert, and how-to:
I didn’t want something that looked like a complete mess — so tossing a milk crate on top of my old, crappy desk (or propping the whole thing up on bricks) wasn’t an option — and I’d still need to keep my old desk around for the times when I wanted to sit. I also knew I wasn’t going to shell out for a fancy desk made specifically for people who want to stand. Besides, a lot of them looked very small and seemed to lack storage.
I started plotting out my new work space with the help of the Ikea website, though I did eventually change the design a little thanks to the input of a handy friend who accompanied me to the labyrinth that is Ikea. I went with an L-shape, where one part was on adjustable legs that extend to 36 inches, and the other was normal desk height. I then put the desktop I use for some tasks on the stand-up portion of the desk, so that I’ll have no choice but to use it once in a while, and I left my laptop (which isn’t ideal for a stand-up desk anyway, because you can’t separate the monitor from the keyboard to put it at eye level) on the regular desk. Anyway, this is what I ended up with after buying two five-foot table tops and some legs:
So far, things are working out well. I didn’t sit down today until after 2 p.m., but that included a walk with my dog (whose crate found a new home under the standing part of the desk, so she has somewhere comfy to hide during thunderstorms). I’ve discovered two things so far: 1) I need a mat to stand on 2) I need to get the monitor up a bit higher. Other than that, I felt good today…
But seriously, how weird is it that we have to go to such lengths just to build in a tiny bit of activity to our daily lives? Maybe I should just go full-on Thoreau or become a hunter-gatherer.