Arvind Narayanan (arvindn) wrote,
Arvind Narayanan
arvindn

A cheap and simple standing desk setup for easy sit/stand alternation

Now that it's widely acknowledged that sitting will kill you and standing desks have officially become cool, those of us who got on the standing train a few years ago are feeling smugly superior ;-) Once you start doing it you tend to accumulate tips, tricks, and hacks to make standing work better, and I'd like to share some of mine to welcome newcomers into the fold.

My primary hangup in switching to a standing desk was the difficulty of standing all day. Several of my friends who tried it ended up abandoning it for the same reason. But here's the thing — standing all day is as bad for your health as sitting all day, so you shouldn't be trying to do that in the first place. What you need instead is a desk that allows you to easily alternate between standing and sitting.

The two main solutions I've seen are adjustable desks and high chairs. Both of these have problems. Adjusting a hand-cranked desk is frustrating and time-consuming, whereas electric ones are bloody expensive. High chairs are awkward and uncomfortable; you lose the other ergonomic benefits of good office chairs.

The most effective sit-stand solution I've found is also the simplest and possibly the cheapest: put a coffee table on top of your regular desk. Use two monitors (or a laptop and an external monitor), one underneath and one atop the coffee table. When you need to switch between sitting and standing, simply switch monitors.


Click to embiggen. Contents of whiteboards blurred to protect world-domination plans.

Problem solved. You're welcome.

Other points of possible interest:
  • I spend about two-thirds of my time in front of the computer standing and one-third sitting.
  • When sitting I simply use the laptop keyboard instead of having to move things up and down.
  • Unexpected side benefits: I burn more calories, and I'm much more likely to write down whiteboard-worthy thoughts. (As a researcher, whiteboards are important to my productivity.)
  • The incredibly thin keyboard in the picture is the Logitech Wireless Solar Keyboard. I recommend it!

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Tags: ergonomics, hack
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