My Standing Desk Experiment

Pain is a part of life. I get grumpy when pain is interfering with my ability to work. I avoid medication for pain because I need my head clear to focus on all that is competing for my attention. So chin up and bare it is my way to go.

For the past few years there’s been a lot written about the benefits of standing during the work day, instead of long hours squished into a desk chair. The research is out there, take from it what you will. I personally agree that standing more will have more positive benefits to my long term health. I can’t stand being compressed in a chair for hours at a time; and attempting to balance sitting on a ball just felt ridiculous.

After some weird dabbling with elevating my computer/monitors/keyboard/mouse on boxes (not my brightest idea), I fully converted to a standing desk to help reduce my back pain. I realize everyone’s issues are difference, but maybe this could be helpful info for you as you investigate a solution appropriate for you.

Before investing money in a standing desk, I wanted to make sure I'd actually use it. So I made a proof of concept to use for a week. I experimented with wood, boxes, etc. to adjust the height to make it more comfortable for me. It didn't take long for me to get excited about evolving it to the next level.

Before investing money in a standing desk, I wanted to make sure I’d actually use it. So I made a proof of concept to use for a week. I experimented with wood, boxes, etc. to adjust the height to make it more comfortable for me. It didn’t take long for me to get excited about evolving it to the next level.

Plenty of options. But which is right for you?

Varidesk is height-adjustableAs I dove deep into learning about fixed desks and adjustable desks, I discovered the options were very diverse and can get quite expensive. I originally started drooling over a motorized desk that raises/lowers, but that’s $700+. I thought seriously about a pretty cool DIY kit I found via Pinterest. Then I was strongly considering a Varidesk, which you place on top of your existing desk. It enables you to raise your computer, monitor, keyboard and mouse to stand for a few hours, then easily lower it to sit. I wanted the widest one ($500-ish) and would also need to configure it with an arm to hold a spare monitor. I had the Varidesk in my Amazon cart for a couple of days, then I decided to cobble together my own fixed standing desk solution as a proof of concept. I wanted to make sure that I’d really commit to standing all day before investing significantly in a solution.

Try a proof of concept before investing your money.

As I tried to figure out what’s right for me, I measured the height from the floor to my elbows and tried to find a comparable height with the existing furniture I had. I read somewhere that the right height should let you bend your elbow at roughly 90 degrees. Makes sense.

I got lucky when stacking my heavy office desk on 4 heavy duty milk crates actually worked well to create a stable surface. (Please be careful if you try something similar.)

I still needed a bit more height. After searching Amazon, I discovered a nice 4″ tall glass stand that was sufficient to support the weight of my hands while typing and using a mouse. ($30)

It became obvious that I needed to I raise my computer higher, so I used a wooden stand I made 30 years ago for my first dot matrix printer and it’s been with me ever since. (Free) Then mounted my second monitor to a movable arm. ($35)

Standing all day on a hard surface can hurt, so I commandeered an old exercise mat to relieve some pressure between me and the hard wood floor. (Free) Maybe one day I’ll invest in a fancy 24″x30″ gel mat ($35+).

It’s a good opportunity to do some neat cable management and reduce any mess that can cause problems. Find a good, safe place for your Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) Battery Backup, your Network Attached Storage (NAS), power strip, etc.

My office standing desk is elevated on heavy duty milk crates. Yup, that actually worked. LOL. You'll have to figure out your own method to safely achieve the height you want.

My office standing desk is elevated on heavy duty milk crates. Yup, that actually worked. LOL. It’s not elegant. But I enjoy finding new uses for stuff. You’ll have to figure out your own method to safely achieve the height you want.

Lessons Learned.

It’s not quite simple. You need to spend time researching options and it makes sense to try some sort of prototype for yourself to make sure it will be realistic for your daily workflow.

Your total investment will be based on your decisions for the following:

  • Pre-packaged solution or Do-It-Yourself.
  • Desk type. Fixed, adjustable, motorized. ($300-1,500)
    Some systems you buy the countertop separate from the stand.
  • Will you also need a stand or arm to raise your computer/monitor? ($35+)
  • If you have a second monitor, how will you raise/mount it? ($35+)
  • Soft/gel floor mat to stand on. ($35+)

I switched to my fixed standing desk in January 2016 and it’s been working great. The first 3 weeks were the hardest as my thighs got used to standing so long. It really hurt compounded on top of normal discomfort. Now 6+ months later it feels normal to stand for long stretches again. Psychologically I think it helps too.

Listen to your body.

That’s the hardest lesson I’ve learned to embrace as I grow older.

Last week I saw a new study that says standing desks aren’t making any significant improvement on health. LOL. You can’t win! One week chicken/milk/wine/pomegranate/etc. is the healthiest thing for you, the next week some clown claims it will cause cancer. Do your own research, follow your gut instinct and do what you think will work for you. Listen to your body.

Anyway, I hope you find this experience helpful. Please share what works for you in the comments below.

UPDATE:

I’ve upgraded since I posted this article. Read about my new adjustable work table solution here.

About the Author:

Roland Reinhart is a Digital Marketing Consultant in NJ specializing in digital marketing for your business/organization. Contact Roland about Website Design, Search Engine Optimization, PPC Advertising, Email Marketing, Video and more. Call (908) 344-5688.

3 Comments

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