There’s nothing worse than being distracted by small aches and pains when it’s crunch time at work. Most of us choose to chug through like the Little Engine That Could. With these simple adjustments to your office ergonomics, instead of telling yourself, “I think I can, I think I can,” you can confidently say, “I can! I can!”
Chair Comfort Is Key
First thing’s first: make sure your desk chair is adjusted so that your feet rest flat on the floor, thighs parallel to the ground. If you can, adjust the armrests so that your arms comfortably rest with no strain or tension from your shoulders. Make sure your body is in a relaxed and comfortable position—you’re going to be there for a while!
Desk Dimensions Matter
Next up: your desk. We’ll get into all the gadgets and gizmos that have permanent homes on your desk, but right now, we’re talking about the space underneath. This area should be totally clear for your knees, thighs, and feet. So, if you’ve been hiding stacks of magazines, extra pairs of shoes, or umbrellas under there, it’s time for some spring cleaning.
Think of this space as the VIP area for your legs. If the desk is too high, try raising your chair, but be sure to find a nice footrest so your feet can rest flat on the floor, like we talked about, above. If it’s too low, get creative and give it a lift by placing boards, blocks, or even books under the legs. Are the edges of your desk too hard? Try padding the edges for more comfort, or investing in a wrist rest.
Let’s get into what’s going on, on top of your desk. Regardless of whether you’re working with a laptop or desktop, your computer monitor or screen should be placed directly in front of you. You know you’re at a comfortable distance if it’s about an arm’s length away. The top of the screen should be around eye level, or a bit below. Angle your computer so it’s closest to the brightest light available. And if you work on a desktop, this info is key for you: make sure the monitor is placed directly behind your keyboard. If you have a separate keyboard and mouse, make sure they’re on the same surface and easily accessible. Regardless, make sure that your wrists are straight and your upper arms are close to your body while you’re typing or clicking.
Side Note: Your desk layout is also extremely important to your office comfort. Make sure your top 10 items are within comfortable reach in order to minimize straining.
Avoid Phone Problems
Avid telephone users may know this trick already, but avoid cradling the phone between your ear and neck, as muscle tension is bound to ensue. Instead, try using your headphones or earbuds, since most come with built in microphones. Additionally, you can make your calls on speakerphone, as long as you have the privacy you need. These tricks are also handy if you’re a multi-tasker at heart, and type and talk at the same time, or need access to other gadgets on your phone during the call, like your calendar or a text from Mom.
Take A Break, Babe!
The last step to better office health is also the hardest: taking breaks. Even though you now know how to make the most of your office setup now, sitting in the same position for extended periods of time inhibits blood circulation, which is bad for your body. Try to take a quick break (1-2 minutes) every 20-30 minutes. Nix eye fatigue by resting and refocusing your eyes from time to time. Look away from your computer screen and focus on something in the distance.
Now you’re ready to face work the right way.