Having just skimmed the Lifehacker article below, I started thinking about what habits I have started incorporating into my work-day, and what habits I really need to cultivate.
Lifehacker’s “Why and How I Switched to a Standing Desk”
Drinking More Water: At the start of the year I bought a Brita filter jug with the aim of drinking more water. Seeing the jug on my desk every morning compels me to fill it up and I probably drink a couple of litres throughout an average working day. This new habit has got rid of a lot of evening headaches and I’m pretty happy with it. More frequent toilet breaks don’t hurt with breaking up the monotony of a day sat at the desk either.
Standing Desk: There seem to be a few benefits to making the switch to a standing desk. First, my posture is worsening by the year, and I seem to be collecting muscular pains which are exacerbated by hefting an all-action two-year old around in my spare time. I imagine a standing desk would get me focused much more on my posture and the body-mechanics that facilitate my working day. Second, anything to get a bit more physical activity into my life right now would be a good thing – Scottish winters aren’t blessed with an abundance daylight hours or days that scream “Go out for a run” at me. The barrier making the conversion seems mostly to be social. I don’t want to become ‘The guy in Psychology who has his desk up on reams of printer paper.’ I’m also worried that I wouldn’t make it through the initial 5-day breaking-in phase.
Running: I ran my first half- and full-marathons in St. Louis. As part of the training for these events, I got into a nice routine of running around Forest Park (close to 7 miles) at least twice a week. that’s fallen by the wayside recently. I hope it’ll pick up again in the summer, but I think I’ll try and catalyse that change by going for runs during my lunch break. I just need to find a suitable shower facility in order to maintain basic standards of hygiene.
Being less wasteful with toner/paper: I don’t like reading journal articles on computer monitors. Therefore, I print thousands of pages a year, most of which I only read once. Most of these articles end up catalogued in my Endnote database (if they’re lucky) and locked in a metal filing cabinet with a few notes scrawled on them. That’s quite a waste of paper and ridiculously expensive toner, which I now have to buy myself. Motivated by saving trees and money, I’m starting to consider other options. Now that they’ll display pdfs, I’ve thought about a Kindle; the e-ink is easier on the eye than an LCD screen, the battery lasts for weeks and they’re (relatively) cheap. BUT they won’t display colour, something I need if I’m to follow the neuroimaging papers I read. Colour alternatives like the iPad and Nook Colo(u)r have some combination of a shocking battery life, back-lit screens and a horrendous price-tag and I’m not sure it’s worth taking a punt on a gadget that may end up presenting me with more problems than it solves. For instance, I don’t know how I’d make notes effectively on an electronic pdf document using each of these devices. I’m settling on the thought that I’ll wait for colour e-ink before committing to wasting less paper, but it does seem like a shame that there isn’t something suitable on the market right now… and I’ll probably be waiting years.
I’d be interested in reading comments from anyone who has converted to a standing desk or bought a Kindle/iPad for the purposes of reading journal articles. Nothing’s ever going to be without its own problems, but do these innovations improve overall working conditions?