How Tech Fails Impact Health

Happy Freelance Friday folks! Today, I have been thinking about how an office technology failure has impacted my health this week. Since my office is also my home, some other freelance tech workers might be able to relate.

My home office setup is pretty good. I have two separate workstations. In my bedroom, there is a desktop using the Standing Desk I built. I use this computer primarily for writing and gaming. Sometimes for reading when I feel like standing. I feel more creative on my feet, and I can dance while I work.

In my front room, I have a 32-inch screen on a stand with a sitting desk in front where I put my laptop. In this setup I use dual screens–TV above the laptop. I use this workstation for control panel management, reading news and blogs, doing research, website maintenance, social media, Web 2.0 platforms etc. I have to sit while multi-tasking.

This is how I work to stay healthy. I usually spend 30-40% of my time at my standing desk and log about a half mile a day walking back-and-fourth between my workstations. Sometimes I setup obstacles in my apartment so I have to step-over or duck-under things. I also have a 6ft piece of bamboo that I use to stretch with throughout the day.

Last week, the computer at my standing desk had a mechanical failure. The timing of the fail was a double bummer because I had just purchased a Humble Bundle of games for Steam. Most people, especially techies, know the stress & anxiety of technology failure. The adverse health impacts of stress are well documented and so are detrimental health problems associated with sitting in front of a computer all day and not really exercising.

Because the computer at my standing desk was down, I had to sit all week. I was hardly getting-up and moving around going between workstations, I did not make any obstacle courses, and I only stretched with my bamboo about twice a day. Not being able to game this weekend is also going to bum me out, but at least I’ll have time to get my desktop PC working again.

I made a makeshift raiser stand for my wireless keyboard so I can write this article  on my TV whilst standing–my laptop below. Being eye-level with the TV isn’t bad, but having to stand on the cold, hard tile is brutal and my laptop screen is now useless. I hope this is the last article I have to write with my keyboard on top of an old printer box.

I Wanna Sell Desks

I started this article while I was sitting, but noticing the irony, I moved to my standing desk

On Thanksgiving, I was golfing with a friend who sits at a desk all day in his state job. He is an athletic guy who gets plenty of exercise, but I worried about what sitting all day was doing to his general well-being. He is not the only person I know who has to work at a desk, and it makes me sad that they have to sit all day.

I’ve always thought I would be a good salesman if I found the right product that I believed in. Lately, I have been recommending standing desks to people even though I have not yet purchased one myself. I built one out of a milk crate and phone books.

I have a really awesome desk. It’s vintage. My dad’s dad built it well before I was born. The craftsmanship is excellent and it’s really light. My dad put wheels on it a few years ago before I sweet talked him out of it. I have another sitting desk in my living room, so I wanted to use my grandfather’s desk as a standing desk without physically modifying it. I put the keyboard and monitor on top of an overturned milk crate, and I used phone books to elevate my mousing surface. This idea was one of my better life hacks.

Balancing my work between standing and sitting (in 2 different rooms) has doubled my productivity. I feel more creative and active when I’m on my feet, yet I’m more attentive and better at multi-tasking while sitting (in front of a 30 inch screen above regular screen). I also have a six foot piece of bamboo that I stretch with while standing, and I can lean on it.

Since dividing my time between standing and sitting, my back, neck, and shoulder pain has reduced drastically and my standing posture has greatly improved.  I like to help people whenever I can, and I feel like convincing someone to use a standing desk will add years to their life and improve their general well being.

If I can make a few backs while making people’s lives better, that’s a double bonus. Now I just have to see whats out there that I can resell. Any suggestions? First stop–Amazon!