Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Ditch that Chair! and Other Ways of Coping with a Sedentary Job




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One of the most frustrating things about working from the comfort of your home is that sometimes you’re just stuck on your chair for long hours every day. I’ve been there, and while I’m thankful for the opportunity to work somewhere I’m more or less comfortable, I understand just how important it is to heave my heavy butt out and about.

lard ass

Yep. We’ve all seen this happen.

Through the years – I’ve been working from home on and off since 2006, and full time since 2009 – I’ve gained a lot of experience on the trials of sitting in front of the computer, and I’ve learned of many ways of how to cope with it. In this post, I outline some of the more effective ways of making sure you don’t fuse your ass to your chair permanently.

Change your Chair!

One of the most dangerous things our civilization has come up with is maximum comfort. Everything from mouse pads to chairs are ergonomic. They’re all designed to reduce the toll our backs take from sitting down for a living. I never had the luxury of an office chair at home precisely because I always broke their hydraulic systems. So I made do with several other options.

So far, I noticed that I worked best when sitting on a bench. There have been studies that show how sitting on an exercise ball not only made people less sedentary, but the posture also helped them with their focus. That’s because you’re sitting with an activated core – sitting without a backrest can be painful if you slouch the entire time. The only way to keep it from hurting is to keep your back straight – which requires that you keep that core active!

Ditch your chair!

When I get tired of sitting down for very long – that’s when I start to feel one of my cheeks going numb – I shift to a standing desk set up. There was a time when I would use a standing desk the entire day, and it was great for my back (I sweat buckets, to boot).

The only problem with going chairless is that you need to have razor-sharp focus in order to get your work done. I realized that I couldn’t maintain a standing desk for an entire day because I had the attention span of a goldfish; I would always be walking away from my desk to do something else, since it was a lot easier to go elsewhere since I was already standing up anyway. So needless to say, my workload suffered quite a bit.

Get a Timer!

One other solution is to set a schedule for yourself. I have a timer installed in my computer – called a snap timer – that beeps every 40 / 20 minutes. The idea is that I work on something straight for forty minutes, then get up from my desk and do something else for twenty minutes. It was great, since not only did it keep me on my toes, it also allowed me to keep a realistic eye on the time – which is important if you’re trying to follow a set schedule.

Of course, there’s a drawback here. In my case, I encountered the problem that I would dismiss the timer if I were too focused on whatever I was doing when the beep went off. I would offset the time later on by adding the break minutes on my next break – which would make it a forty minute break – which wrecked my rhythm altogether. I was able to correct this by switching the intervals to 60 / 10, with an hour-long break for lunch.

 

I’m sure there are other methods of dealing with a sedentary home-based lifestyle. These are only some of the methods I’ve come up with to deal with them – I have plenty of others, but that’s for another post. But I’d like to hear from you guys! What do you do to avoid fusing your butt to your chair?

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