In In my studio

From time to time I like to share a bit about my process, my studio space and how I work. I recently gave my computer “workstation” an ergonomic re-vamp.

I’ve read several articles about how much the average American sits every day and how that can wreak havoc on your health. I read this during the months and months I was working on my book and sitting on my butt for 10 hours a day! Apparently even if you exercise 30 min a day (I hadn’t been) it can’t undo all the damage that sitting does. Meanwhile, I had injured my hamstring and all of that sitting was aggravating it. I had been in pain for months!

Here’s an infographic explaining the research.

My husband converted his computer desk to standing a while back and seemed to adjust ok, so I thought it was time to give it a try. I wasn’t willing to shell out a lot of money on the new fancy tables that adjust from sitting to standing on a whim. And being  DIY kinda gal I decided to make it work with what I already have.

First and foremost, I needed to figure out what the correct height and placement of my monitor and keyboard should be based on my height, eyesight/glasses, etc. There are online tools, like this one, that can help figure this stuff out.

I did some searching online for DIY standing workstations and noticed that some people put their monitor on a shelving unit. Lucky me, I happened to have shelves mounted on the wall above my computer desk already. I unloaded all of the books and knick-knacks then adjusted the height of the shelves to accommodate my monitor.  After that, I only had room to put one shelf back up above it. I decided to stash the books under the desk for now. The only things back on the shelves are very light weight…just in case.

The next task was raising the keyboard and mouse. I had 2 sturdy bins that seems about the right height for me when standing in front of the monitor. I put one of the shelves I had taken down on top of the bins as my new desktop. After trying it out, it felt a bit low so I added a second shelf under the keyboard to raise it one more inch. Perfect!

My studio has carpeting, but I felt I needed a bit more cushion under foot so I found one of my foam floor tiles from my quilt market booth to stand on! Another tip from the standing workstation websites is to have a low stool to rest one foot on as you stand. Lo and behold I still had my old nursing stool hanging around and it is just the thing.

One last adjustment was removing the keyboard tray that was part of the desk. When I put my foot up on the stool, that tray was hitting me in the knee. The tray was on little rollers and I was able to just lift it up and take it off. Done!

So how’s it been going?
So far so good! My hamstring is feeling much better. I spend less time “goofing around” on my computer, especially late at night. I definitely move around a lot more and feel more active. In addition I’ve been walking outside in the mornings and using a pedometer with a goal of 10,000 steps a day. That part has nothing to do with the standing desk, BUT I have to get out and walk early because if I wait until later in the day, my legs are too tired to go! I also removed my office chair and like not having it in my way. I can move more freely from computer to drawing table to sewing machine plus there’s more space in my studio.

At this point I can’t say that it’s been life changing, in terms of feeling better, except for the hamstring thing. That alone makes it totally worth it for me. I did find this handy little calculator that shows how many more calories you can burn a day by standing vs. sitting, though!

The negatives?
It has taken a bit of an adjustment and I am still getting used to it. I need to be sure to wear comfortable shoes and not just stand in my stocking feet. By the end of the day my legs are TIRED. Fortunately my studio has a place to sit down and I take frequent sitting breaks to sketch or knit or make a phone call.

All in all I think it’s a good improvement and I will report back after I give it some more time. It’s only been a few weeks with the new set up and I am still tweaking things to make it work for me.

Do you have any tips or tricks to make your workspace comfortable, usable or healthy? Have you tried standing more and sitting less? I’d love to know!


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Showing 8 comments
  • Sher

    The standing up idea while using the computer is really interesting – it never occurred to me before. I always hesitate to stand too much because I am a runner and fight plantar fasciitis. However, I wear ONLY really good shoes because of this. Lately I’ve had a lot more trouble with glute and hamstrings while running – I wonder if it’s all the sitting down at computers and crochet (probably in poor positioning). It might be a good idea for me to have a standing height place AND sitting height place for my laptop so that I get more of a balance with sitting and standing – thanks for the suggestion! I’m going to give it a try.

    • Betz White

      Yes, I think alternating sitting and standing is probably best. The trick is to have both be good ergonomically. I’m no expert, but I was told that sitting shortens the hamstring and that could lead to injury when you do an exercise that lengthens it. Good luck!

  • Dawn Suzette

    We have been taking about this but hesitate to spend the money for an adjustable workstation, just to try it out. Thanks for the tips. It never crossed my mind to do it DIY style!

    • Betz White

      Great! Let me know if you give it a try!

  • the quilted fox

    You know, as with most things in life, I think it probably needs to be done in moderation. Somehow dividing standing and sitting 50/50. I say this because my 70 year old mother was just diagnosed with arthritis in her toes. Her job as a pharmacist for some 45 years or so required her to stand at the counter/ computer. Despite wearing appropriate shoes, I’m sure it’s the cause of her arthritis today.

    • Betz White

      Hi Quilted Fox,
      I’m sorry about your mom’s arthritis. I completely agree about moderation! This set up of mine is temporary, just to see how I like working standing up. Ideally I’d have a way to alternate throughout the day between sitting and standing. It might be a laptop that I can move between stations, and adjustable desk or a high stool to pull up when needed.
      Thanks for your comment,

  • Sara

    When i don’t have to work seriously but just check e.mails or searching on google or reading some blog like yours i use the i pad and lay on the bed or on the sofa….so i don’t increase my sitting time in the day…and it’s more relaxing!

    • Betz White

      That’s it! I need a recumbent workstation! Somehow I don’t think that would make me less sedentary. :)

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