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Ditching the Chair Update: Lack of Use Raises Its Head

I'm just starting day three of my standing desk experiment and so far I really like it - though a couple of challenges are showing up.

As you may recall, I pulled one of my cubicle cupboards off the wall a couple days ago and am using it as a standing desk platform.  It's wide, deep enough, and more than sturdy enough for the limited use I put it through up there.  Also, I keep all that storage.  So win-win-win.  I'm fortunate that it's at exactly the right height for my purpose.  

So here's how it's developed over the past couple of days.  My monitors are set apart about 16 inches and that's nice because it gets my neck moving back and forth more.  I was having some issues with my neck/back between my shoulder blades being tight and causing me headaches, and that has gone away.  I think that having my attention locked onto one place all day was not helping there, and setting them apart more has made me move it more.  Granted, I tend to lose my mouse cursor slightly more easily than before when moving between the monitors but that'll just take some getting used to.  

I've also used some old books to prop the monitors up a bit so that I'm not looking down as much.  The new joke is that the red book on the right monitor is a SharePoint Server 2007 book, and that if I need to use that again for any reason then it's time for me to look for another job anyway. :)  I've got room for my Kindle to charge up there as well as my phone, and even a couple of desk toys (my Columbus Crew sqeeze ball that Crew legend Frankie Hejduk threw at me from a moving shuttle bus in downtown Columbus one day; and my shuriken/medal from my first Mud Ninja race on the left, as well as my two Hellboy figurines on top of the left monitor).  

The positives, thus far, are enormous.  I'm actually a bit more productive standing up.  my mind stays on what I'm doing more, perhaps because I'm a pacer - when I think, I do so best when I'm standing up and moving around a bit.  Sitting in a chair all day is not conducive to that... I think I freaked people out before when I'd suddenly get up and walk around my cube (and into the empty cube across from mine).  The chair is still actually in my cube in case I feel the need to site down for a moment, which I will admit I do for a couple minutes at a time a few times a day.  

The aforementioned back and neck issues vanishing nearly overnight is a HUGE plus.  And with my head just over the top of my cube, I can easily look around and out the windows near my cube to rest my eyes a bit throughout the day.  This is really easy since I can touch type and not have to be staring at the keyboard while I type all the time.  My boss's office door is directly in front of me as I work, and he says I freak him out when he comes out and I'm staring at him like Wilson on Home Improvement.
I really need to find myself a fishing hat.  
There are a couple downsides, that should go away in a few days.  The first is that my hamstrings are sore.  This is obviously from standing up all day and engaging muscles that don't normally get the work, and should go away as I get more accustomed to it.  And it also says something about what sitting is doing to us when the simple act of standing for a while causes muscle soreness!  Also, my feet are a little tired, but not nearly as much.  I think this goes back to the pacing thing, so that my feet are getting some movement in throughout the day and not just having all this weight put on them in the same place all day - as was happening to my butt when I sat.  

The other, unexpected aspect is that people tend to "stop by" my cube a lot more because they see my head sticking up all the time.  I realize that a lot of this is the novelty of having this new thing in our office and everyone coming over to see what I'm doing and why, but I think it also says something about the isolating quality of the cubicle environment.  It makes me wonder if a more open environment wouldn't make for better work.  

The comments I've gotten have been interesting - most people seem to assume that I'm doing it BECAUSE I have back problems.  And aside from the muscle issues in my neck, I really don't.  My response has been of the "no, but I don't want them, either" variety.  I'd love to send each of them off to the Mark's Daily Apple article on sitting but I tend to get preachy when I do such things, so I am trying to avoid that.  One guy in the office is thinking about doing this himself, BECAUSE of his back problems (him, I might send the article :) ). 

So all in all, it's a win thus far.  I'm sleeping well at night, I'm getting more done, and I'm making improvements in the way I was hoping.  Not sure if there's going to be a next step as things are working nicely thus far, we shall see.  


  1. Nice to see an update after a few days. It makes sense, but I didn't think that it would be enough to feel soreness in your legs!!

    I thought of another question for you, is the standing desk idea something that you ran by and got approved by your supervisor? Or was it more of a thing you did on your own and the office environment is pretty laid back?

  2. I just did it. :) Our environment is such that it didn't really matter to anyone. Though I had made inquiries about whether there was cubicle hardware for what I wanted from our HR department.

    It's better to ask forgiveness than to ask permission. :)

  3. haha. I like to think that's how the culture is here, but I don't feel like I've been here long enough to just go for it.

    I think I may formulate a plan on how to construct the desk (probably with some ideas from, make the proposal and see where it goes. Looking forward to more updates!

    1. Check out for some great ideas on how to set these up if you have to do it yourself, without the use of employer-owned cubicle hardware. :)


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