About 2 years ago, I made the plunge into using a standing desk. I would sit around at my desk feeling 100% unproductive and tired all of the time. I wasn’t getting anything done and I hated working at my desk. Right around then, the trend of standing desks was coming about. It took a quick Google search to find articles from Wired, Lifehacker, Forbes, and the New York Times. In fact, if you do a quick Google search you can find hundreds of articles on the topic including one from the Smithsonian, and another from New York Magazine. It was pretty obvious that a standing desk is insanely good for your health. This was great because as an entrepreneur and an event planner, I don’t have much time to be healthy (something I’m working on). However, I was more excited for the second reason- having a standing desk is an insane boost in productivity. Contrary to the title of this article, I am not going to convince you why you need one. Feel free to read one of those 6 articles I linked to already, but instead I’m going to give you my guide to how I made the abrupt change into standing nearly all day.
Choosing A Standing Desk
There are hundreds of standing desks, standing desk add-ons and even accessories are out there. I’ve done a ton of research into this because whenever I make a purchase I am obsessed about knowing everything about it before it arrives on my doorstep. I’m going to break this down into a few various option you have.
- A legit, adjusting standing desk – These are really cool and I think when a lot of people want to get into standing, they think this is the only option. So when they see the massive price tag for something like an Updesk or a Geek Desk, they get turned away. These desks are truly awesome, they can go up and down (down is helpful which I’ll explain later in the article), have programmable positions, have awesome accessories like monitor mounts, and more. However, you have to ask yourself, is it really worth it for one of these desks? Not if you are unsure about standing while your work in the first place. I recommend looking at one of these next options before investing in a full standing desk.
- Desk extender – These are great if you have a desk already but want to try standing. Just like the title expresses, it extends the height of your desk, so you don’t have to commit to getting an entirely new desk. A lot of them have up and down functionality, which again makes things nice when you want to sit.
- A standing only desk – Don’t want to spend the hundreds (if not thousands) to get an adjustable desk but you are ready to commit to standing and don’t need up and down functionality? There are a massive amount of options to have a standing only desk. For example, I am currently rocking this Kallax workstation from Ikea in our office.
- DIY options – I’m not going to lie, when I first started, I wanted minimal investment into this because, for all I knew, I was going to hate it (though now I love it). I highly recommend this option for anyone THINKING of doing a standing desk. Feel free to Google DIY standing desk for inspiration but there are also a ton of IKEA hacks out there, where people built their own desks. That way you get exactly what you were looking for. Feel free to go ghetto when you first start, my first standing desk was my normal desk with cinderblocks underneath it. I then graduated to milk crates.
Tips For Making The Standing Desk Switch
After having a standing desk for 2 years, I have learned a few things about making the switch so here’s my quick fire tips that you must know.
It’s going to suck at first
When I first made the switch, I couldn’t stand for more than 30 minutes at a time without having to take a break. You’re going to get home exhausted (which is a good thing). You’re going to want to quickly fall back into your habits of sitting. This is almost why I recommend a “standing only” desk at first because it forces you to do your work at your standing desk rather than revert back to sitting. I promise that after a month of standing, you’ll be a pro and you’ll only need 1 or 2 breaks a day.
It’s okay to take breaks
I’ve been doing this for 2 years and I’m used to being on my feet for 4-10 hours at a time (thanks to production industry, DJing and event management) and I still need breaks. Since my desk does not adjust, I have a barstool under my desk for when I get tired near the end of the day or on those days when I am just too tired to stand. Since I usually eat lunch sitting down (or have a lot of meetings), I find I get my fill of sitting throughout the day naturally. However, on those days when I’m in the office all day with no meetings, I am usually exhausted by 4pm. It’s okay to have a barstool or go sit down at a conference table to get some work done.
Anti-fatigue mats are what the cash registers at the grocery store have to make standing all day more bearable. I highly recommend investing in a good mat. I use the Imprint Cumulus9 Comfort Mat. This will make a HUGE difference in standing all day. I also recommend buying velcro or tape, so you can keep your mat in one spot. Mine tends to slide around. Also, a bonus tip, I have found working barefoot on my mat feels AMAZING.
Want one step up from a anti-fatigue mat? Recently I found this AWESOME company called FluidStance and they have made a product called The Level. Essentially it’s an awesome device that you stand on that keeps you moving slightly through the day. I definitely can’t do a treadmill desk but this is just enough to keep you moving so you aren’t locking you knees and hips. They have an Indiegogo campaign right now (which ends on February 26, 2015). If the Level sounds like something you’d be interested in, you should buy now. I always find that the price on Indiegogo is always cheaper than when the product official launches. So go! Buy buy buy!
Believe it or not, ergonomics matter
When you are looking at a standing desk, make sure you’re set up for success. Follow the following diagram to make sure you aren’t putting unnecessary pain on yourself.
I created my own monitor shelf using a dresser draw and dress feet from Ikea. By doing this, you will also free up a ridiculous amount of space on your desk. If you use a laptop, I recommend buying a good mouse and keyboard so that way you can get your screen at the optimal height (I use this set from Logitech). A small bonus tip, if you have your desk in the middle of the room, and you are using dual monitors (like I do), you will find that you pretty much eliminate the sightline beyond the monitors. Your co-workers will make fun of it at first, but then it becomes a fun game of “talk to Will without him seeing me”.
So there you have it. Those are my tips for making the switch to the standing desk revolution for event planners and why you should do it. You will find that at first it will be very tough, but overtime you will be able to stand for longer periods of time, feel more energized throughout the day and get more stuff done. I hope you enjoyed my tips, and please leave me a comment below if you decide to make the switch, or already have a standing desk, I’d love to hear from you!