A slick, clean desk is as good for headspace as it is for productivity, but an intelligently assembled workstation is even better for your body. Follow our tips to improve your health and wealth – and you might be able to knock off early, too
Power Plant Maintaining desktop shrubbery does more than prove you can handle responsibility. Exeter University discovered greenery made employees 15 per cent more productive. A study in the Journal of Environmental Psychology also found that fauna reduces fatigue on demanding tasks. Succulents are hip and pretty unkillable.
Perfect Form “The ideal when typing is to have your forearms parallel to the floor and elbows at 90 degrees,” says Dr Kelly Starrett, fitness guru and author of
Deskbound. If you put strain on your wrists, you risk developing carpal tunnel syndrome and shoulder instability. You want neither.
Screen Wipe “Always position your monitor so the top is at eye level,” says Starrett. This way, you won’t end up slouching. As for distance, if the screen’s too close, you’ll strain your eyes; too far away, you’ll crane your neck. The tip of your middle finger should just brush the screen with an outstretched arm. That’s a good rule of, er, thumb.
Mouse Trap “The same principles apply to your mouse,” says Starrett. Try moving the mouse from your shoulder, not your wrist. Avoid angling your wrist by keeping it in line with your forearm – which is parallel to the floor – with your elbow to the side. Remember, your mouse should sit next to your hand, not across the desk.
Snap Judgement Exeter University has established that employees who adorn their desks increase output by as much as 32 per cent. However, too many mementos are unprofessional: the tipping point, reveals the Uni of Michigan, is one personal item for every five on your desk. Leave your kids’ drawings at home.
Write Stuff Putting pen to dead tree helps you retain information better than tapping a laptop, according to research in Psychological Science.
Meanwhile, the University of British Columbia has found that blue precipitates twice as much creative output as red. You’d better get a new notebook.
Sitting Pretty Ergonomic chairs might look supportive but, ironically, they’re “almost impossible to achieve a good position in”, according to Starrett. It’s far better to perch on the edge of a flat wooden or metal seat, legs ‘manspread’. That way, you’ll maintain an oak-solid trunk, prevent stiffness or pain in your hips, and you might even get up every 20-30 minutes.
Stand & Deliver Standing 9-5 might sound exhausting, but Cornell Uni studies show that fatigue from staying on your feet eases up after a few months. If that still seems extreme, a sit-stand desk lets you periodically take a load off your pins. Hydraulic models can be expensive; a crank-handle version is more affordable.
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