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The Perks of the Standing Desk

I’m standing as I type this.

My feet are flat on the floor, my back straight, my forearms resting gently upon the edge of my desk.

I’m taking a common stance in my new business routine (pun intended), which allows me to put personal care and productivity first.

Health is important to me (as I’m sure it is to you). Why should I have to sacrifice it for a career I love?

By now I’m sure you’ve read the headlines warning us “sitting is the new smoking.” Uninterrupted sitting poses elevated risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and a range of other conditions known to occur as your muscles switch into a “dormant” mode that compromises your body’s ability to break down sugars and fats.

I start my day off with a long walk or light jog with the dog every single morning. For breakfast, I’ll have a smoothie with cashew milk, strawberries, mangos, spinach and coconut oil, or oatmeal with cinnamon. (Have you read about the health benefits of cinnamon? I put that shit in everything. If you haven’t had cinnamon in your coffee before, go make yourself a cup NOW).

But guess what? None of this matters if I spend the rest of the day sitting.

And for years, that’s exactly what I have been doing – sitting on the train (when I had to commute into the city for work), sitting at my desk for 8 to 10 hours a day, sitting on the train again during the ride home, and then sitting at the dinner table. And guess where you’d often find me after that? Sitting on the couch, watching TV.

I’ve literally been shaving years off of my life. A recent Australian study found those who sat more than 11 hours a day had a 40 percent higher risk of dying in the next three years than people who sat less than four hours a day.

Why the &^%* are we sitting so much?

The habit of sitting is ingrained in office culture. This is especially true of the writing industry, where one of the most common pieces of advice we hear involves putting your ass in the chair.

It’s not easy to break familiar behaviours. But it’s possible.

standing

Just as my workday does not have to begin with an influx of emails (I try to avoid checking my inbox before 9am), it doesn’t have to require sitting all day either.

I read an article today suggesting the day after Labour Day is the perfect time to start a new habit.

Okay so you’ll be a day late by the time you read this, but that shouldn’t deter you from making a change.

I made the change just over a month ago, after moving into my new home (and new office). And want to know how I did it?

I came prepared.

I did the research. I read the reviews, compared the prices, and weighed the pros and cons of all of my options. I ended up purchasing the BEKANT standing desk from IKEA. And I’m really happy with it so far. It’s sturdy and well built (unlike many of my IKEA purchases I made in my university years). It’s electrical – I move the desk up and down with the click of a button. It has a large surface area, which allows me to spread out my work, but doesn’t include a lot of storage for papers and other unnecessary, distracting items to collect and pile up.

The only glitch I notice is every once in a while, the desk seems to get caught daydreaming and jolts a bit when reaching its highest height. But that’s only happened twice so far, and it seemed to go back to normal after putting it back down and up again.

When I was researching standing desks, there were a lot of pricier options, but also some frugal ones – if you like your desk but want to switch up your stance, you may want to check out this adjustable laptop stand.

I planned ahead. My husband and I sold his computer desk on a local buy and sell group on Facebook, and decided he would take my old desk when we moved. (He doesn’t spend hours at a time in his home office, so it works out just fine for him). I then purchased the desk before the move, so I’d be ready to get to work right away. And of course, one of the best parts of being self-employed is the tax benefits, so I knew I could deduct the cost of the desk over a depreciation period.

Whether sitting or standing, my VP loves the new desk too.

Whether sitting or standing, my VP loves the new desk too.

I re-structured my day. It definitely took some adjusting before I got the hang of my new stand-up routine. After the novelty of my new desk wore off a bit, I started finding myself sitting at my desk for hours at a time again, getting lost in my work. So I decided to develop a bit of a structure. I now make an effort to stand to check email, make client calls, do research, transcribe interviews and schedule social media posts. And then I usually sit to write. Sometimes I’ll start or finish a writing project from a standing position, but I tend to do most of my writing with my ass in the chair (I guess there’s some weight to the common advice after all). The point is, I had to experiment with this to find out what allowed me to do my best work, and this is the system that seems to work best for me.

I’d love to hear about your own working routine, whether you’re interested in investing in a standing desk or if you’ve already made the change. How’s it working out for you so far? Let me know in the comments below.

Author:

Charlotte Ottaway

Charlotte is the founder of Web of Words. She helps solopreneurs and small business owners create real human connections online through blogging and social media. Her work has been published in Maclean's, Canadian Business, Zoomer, The Globe and Mail, The Huffington Post Canada and other Canadian publications. Better known by family and friends as Carly, she currently resides in Newmarket with her husband and fur-babe. To learn more, check out her portfolio at charlotteottaway.com and follow her on Twitter @charlottaway.

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