As I walked around the offices of one of my long-standing legal clients a few months ago I noticed some of the senior associates and partners had stand-up desks for a portion of their work, including computer work in some cases.
Then a conversation with an American professional organiser Mary Pankiewicz of Exceptional Productivity gave me some reasons and benefits of standing up for some of our work.
Here are a couple of excerpts from Mary's recent quick-read book 'You Can Be Clutter-free & Organized: Fast, Easy Organizing Solutions for Paper Piles & Your Office'
Standing: The New, Innovative Way to Win Over Your Stacks!
Standing is a new concept in current organising that I have found extremely successful. I say current because others have used it in the past. Thomas Jefferson, Winston Churchill, and Ernest Hemingway wrote standing up. Einstein theorised standing up. History tells us how well it worked for them!
Why stand? The simple reason is you will have more energy, and the stack is not in your face. Subconsciously, you are bigger than the stack and so feel more powerful and able to conquer it. Research has shown you have more blood in your brain when you are on your feet, and so you are more decisive and make better and faster decisions!
My work with clients has certainly proved that true. If we are trying to conquer a Mt. Everest-size stack of papers, I make sure we tackle the job while standing, unless health issues dictate otherwise.
So, when should you stand?
• When work feels complicated.
• When you dislike a job.
• When you have lots of papers to sort.
• When it's your body's down time, but you still need to be productive.
• When your back is tired from sitting, and you need a break from being at your desk job.
How can you put standing in your office into practice?
• Take a box and put it on the desk or table upside down to raise the height, so you don't have to bend down.
• If the office printer is flat-surfaced, work on top of it.
• Put a small drawer unit on top of a flat surface to have a raised flat surface.
• Use an art board such as an architect would use (this is what I use in my office).
• Some small bars are exactly the right height for a standing desk.
• Look around your office, and be creative.
A Stand-Up Desk Might Help
A Yale University study revealed that people who sit for more than half a day at work have a 60 to 70 per cent greater risk of slipping a disk than their more mobile co-workers (Source: Every Manager's Desk Reference, Alpha Books, 2002).
After talking to Mary, I did some more research. Very quickly I came across a clever start-up New Zealand company - the Meerkat Desk. I immediately ordered one - it's a very clever and inexpensive way to test the concept for less than $40 including freight.
I can now convert my existing desk to a stand up desk whenever I want. It's an easy way to test the system and if you don't like it you haven't wasted a lot of money. I also found permanent desks that could be levered up or down, depending on your needs. My lawyer clients have bigger offices and those with stand-up desks (which look much like a small bar leaner) also have a normal sitting one as well.
My experience: I don't enjoy standing for many hours at a stretch but when I want high energy (such as when doing a skype interview for my weekly podcast it takes only about 2 minutes to lift up my laptop and screen, pop the cardboard Meerkat Desk on top of my existing desk, and then re-position the equipment. (It helps that I'm very minimal with the 'stuff' on my desk!)