Standing Desk

I've had back problems for quite a few years now. My job has me at a desk or sitting in meetings about 90% of the time. On top of that I am a cyclist and being hunched over a bike isn't the best thing for your back. To make matters even worse I have this nasty habit of "slouching" when I sit. All of this leads to back problems. Once or twice a year I will get back muscle spasms that will essentially make it hard for me to move for several days, requiring me to take a few days off work. The solution for me was quite simple and inexpensive...

Humans were not meant to sit for the majority of the day, yet that is what a lot of us do. So I decided to convert my work cubicle into a standing desk. This can be very expensive. There are some really amazing standing desks out there and I would love to have one. However, my current job has me traveling quite bit and even when I am in town I am in and out of meetings quite a bit during the day. So I really couldn't justify having my employer spend a pretty sizable amount of money on a standing desk. So I made one myself. I have a pretty standard cubicle setup for my office. It's a corner L-Shaped cubicle desk with under-desk drawers and an above the desk shelf and cabinets. My computer setup is a 13" MacBook Air, a [BookEndz Dock][book] (which by the way they are [no longer selling Apple laptop docks][no], and a 27" HP external monitor. The bookshelf that sits above my desk surface is the perfect height for my 27" external monitor to sit so that the center of the screen is at my eye level, so that is where I moved my monitor. Right next to the monitor I have my MacBook Air docked into the BookEndz. The last piece of the puzzle was how to deal with getting the keyboard at the right height so I could stand. I did a little bit of digging online and found something on Amazon that looked like it just might work. Amazon had a [generic vented laptop stand][stand] that had both an adjustable height and an adjustable flat surface angle. It was only $39.99 so I took a gamble and ordered it. Below is a picture of my setup:

You will notice that I have a wireless Apple keyboard and an Apple Magic Trackpad. Unfortunately my employer provided laptop came with a wired keyboard and a Magic Mouse. The wired part of the keyboard wasn't the problem, it was the size. The Apple wired keyboards come with the extra numeric keypad and it was too wide to fit on the laptop stand with either a mouse or a trackpad. I also didn't like using a mouse with the laptop stand so I switched over to Magic Trackpad. The laptop stand itself to a bit of trial and error to get the height right. I also had to pad the bottom of the keyboard with a really high-tech device...a folded Kleenex. The keyboard for some reason wasn't sitting flush on the keyboard stand. I think the thin metal of the stand may have a slight bend or flex to it. The old folded Kleenex did the trick. Eventually I found the right combination of laptop stand leg angles and heights and I am really comfortable with how this setup turned out. I don't stand all the time while I am at my desk. I generally stand 2-3 hours a day. If I am working on a longer task that requires me to do a lot of writing I like sitting while I work. I wrote this post while standing, but for longer tasks I still seem to do better sitting down. A lot of my work ends up being smaller tasks or working with email and doing that while standing works really well. I rarely have a full day at my desk anyway with all the meetings I have throughout the week. When I do want to sit down and work I just undock my laptop and move it down to my normal desktop surface and use just the laptop (no external monitor, wireless keyboard or Magic Trackpad).

There is another solution for my cubicle setup and that is installing one of those adjustable keyboard trays under the shelf surface in my cube. One of my office mates is setup this way, and while it took some fiddling he was able to make that work as well. This is probably the more elegant solution but I couldn't get our ergonomics people to respond to my request so I gave up and solved the problem myself.

So in total I spend $175 on my standing desk solution (the laptop stand, wireless keyboard and Magic Trackpad). You can probably get away with just $40 if you have a mouse/trackpad and keyboard that will work. I haven't had any back problems since I started using this setup in Aug of 2014 (so about 5 months now). If you are thinking about a standing desk you might consider getting a laptop stand like the one I have and trying it out for a while first. Who knows, maybe you will be like me and decide this "budget" solution is good enough...

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