Miscellaneous

Rise up and Write. Yay or Nay on Standing Desks?

Nicole Melanson ~

Woman working on laptop

Ask any group of authors what the hardest part of writing is and their responses will cover everything from writer’s block to self-promotion. For years, I’d have said that the hardest part for me was simply finding time, but now my answer is much more literal: the hardest part of writing for me is my chair. No contest whatsoever.

Research says that sitting is the new smoking, and my body wouldn’t disagree. I have a perpetual crick in my neck, a sore spine, and raw patches on my elbows where the skin has rubbed away from leaning over a desk.

I used to have a beautiful antique wooden captain’s chair with armrests and a wicker back. Exhibit A:

Antique Captain's Chair

The chair itself was great, but I couldn’t handle all the sitting. I much prefer to perch. Friends swore by their exercise balls (many left over from labor), but I figured having a gigantic, bouncing ball in my office was a recipe for disaster with five little kids around. So, I bought a stool instead—this stool, specifically:

Home Office with IKEA Nilserik Stool

It’s from IKEA and I love it because it both swivels and rocks, doesn’t take up a ton of visual space, and tucks neatly under my desk when not in use. I’m also the only one who likes it, which means I never have to worry about anyone else in the house stealing it for themselves. The problem is, no matter how much I call it swivelling, rocking, and perching, I’m still basically sitting for hours at a time.

The situation has only gotten worse with COVID-induced lockdowns and restrictions. Little things like parents being prohibited from entering school grounds mean I’m no longer dashing in and out all day but instead consolidating all my errands and spending more time at home. And the more I do at home, the more I’m at my desk, which means endless hours of sitting.

My stool can extend to a height of 71 cms / 28 inches, designed to offer support if you’re standing. I don’t know about other parts of the world but standing desks are so trendy here in Australia that you can buy them pretty much anywhere now. I’m just afraid to invest in one in case I hate it, or get as tired of standing as I do of sitting. So now I’m thinking I might try a really basic standing desk converter before I go all out and splurge. I think it might make a nice upgrade from the two shoeboxes I’m currently using (since I have no use for the beautiful, long leather boots they store here in sunny Queensland).

Anyone have any experience with this kind of set-up? I obviously use a desktop rather than a laptop so it’s a bit bulkier to move, but feel like this might keep me from freezing up in one position over the course of a day. Thoughts?

— Nicole Melanson

8 thoughts on “Rise up and Write. Yay or Nay on Standing Desks?

  1. I switched from an office chair to a standing desk years ago and have not looked back. I got 4 garden pots from my garage, and just raised the whole desk up. Figured it was not a big deal to switch back if need be. About a year later, I realised I still had pots under my desk, so used a couple of filing cabinets to build a more permanent arrangement.
    I always sit down when I take phone calls for a break and I have the same ikea stool as you that I sometimes perch on for meetings.
    About once a year I work from my father in laws house for a few weeks, and I stand at his dinner table. I just use cardboard boxes and books to build everything up to the height I need it, and then take them all down when I finish work every night. You could use something like that as a trial if you want to?

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  2. I have been using a standing desk for more than a year. I got one that sits atop my regular desk and adjusts up and down so I can take a break and sit if I want. I have to say, I rarely do. I love standing! I did it because of back pain, not fear of the health detriments of sitting. And it has really helped my back.

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    1. Thanks, Audrey! That is very helpful. Exactly what I was thinking with the conversion kit so I’m not out of pocket for a whole new workspace and still have room to spread out paperwork. Great to hear it’s made a positive difference for you!

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  3. Three of my coworkers, two with desktops and one with a laptop, swear by these. They use the adjustable converters so that they can sit or stand as they wish. I didn’t get one because I couldn’t bear the idea of this huge, hulking contraption on my desk, but I think they have some now that are much sleeker and more aesthetically appealing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, they definitely take up a lot of space and I feel like there would be cords everywhere. But I’m getting to the point where I avoid working because I can’t stand the thought of just sitting there again.

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  4. Hi Nicole, I recently invested in a height adjustable desk. Not cheap but worth it IMHO—and tax deductible, of course. It takes up little space and is easy to use. Even the assembly wasn’t as daunting as I thought it would be. I chose the smallest of the available Zen desks and, when you visit the website, you get an offer of $100 off. Note: these are popular desks and usually take several weeks to be delivered: https://www.zenspacedesks.com.au/product/zen-one-height-adjustable-standing-desk/

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    1. Thanks, Angela. That is very similar to one I saw at IKEA – Bekant I think it might be called? Do you find you move it up and down or tend to just leave it on standing? Do you use any kind of stool with it?

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