Posts tagged tips
How to Help Counteract the Negative Effects of Sitting All Day

imageTo help track and engage in the daily activity that can limit the negative effects of sitting, start by finding your daily baseline with a pedometer. Whether with a pedometer, Fitbit, or even a phone app, take a 30-minute walk and see how many steps you take. This number will vary based on how quickly you walk and how large your steps are.

Next, you want to find a baseline of your daily activity. Start using the pedometer when you first wake up in the morning and keep it in your pocket, on your wrist, or running on your phone until you go to bed. This will give you an estimate of your regular daily activity. For some, this may be frighteningly low on the days without purposeful exercise.

To help meet your daily activity target, all it takes is a slight alteration to your behavior. Here are a few ideas for how to do it without really trying:

  • Park near the back of the parking lot.
  • Stand up to visit the file cabinet instead of rolling your chair.
  • Walk over and talk to a coworker instead of emailing them.
  • Take the scenic route to the bathroom instead of the most direct.

Meeting your target activity level is just the first step. The second is much simpler and only requires you stand up now and again.

You can reduce the negative effects of sitting all day just by standing up for one or two minutes every hour. Technically, you don’t even have to move, the act of standing alone helps. Since this may be difficult to remember while focused on your work, so it helps to set an hourly reminder. For Mac users, click Settings > Date & Time > Announce the time. Windows users can set up a similar hourly reminder as a task by clicking Control Panel > Administrative Tools > Task Scheduler.

If the alarm isn’t enough, you can download dedicated software to remind you. Windows users can use free programs like, Workrave or Breaker to set up automated alerts. For Macs, Time Out seems the best free option. These programs will remind you to stand and dim the desktop to force you out of your chair.

It’s up to you how you use these micro-breaks. You don’t even have to move if you don’t want to, but if you want to squeeze in a little activity, here’s a quick way to do it without leaving your desk area:

  • Stand up.
  • March in place for twenty seconds.
  • Reach down and try to touch your toes for twenty seconds.
  • Wander around and pick up or reorganize for the last twenty seconds (eventually your desk area may even be clean).

Remember: stand up once an hour and get at least 30 minutes of purposeful activity in a day. Those two simple choices will help counteract the negative effects of sitting.

Originally published on Lifehacker, January 26, 2012.

5 Tips for Working in a Shared Office Space

Image: IT Pro Portal

In the tech sector, where telecommuting is rampant and inexpensive office space is not, working from co-working spaces has become a viable and affordable option. The typical co-working space is an open-plan office space that allows its members to work in a more professional environment than their garages or bedrooms.

Think of a co-working space as a big, open office, filled with dozens of different companies, all under one roof. Picture long tables full of laptops and busy workers tapping away or making phone calls – almost like what you’d see at some coffee shops, but with more resources for getting work done, and less hissing from cappuccino machines.

To work effectively from a co-working space, you need to be as self-sufficient as possible. So get yourself organized with these five tips.

1. Always bring headphones and chargers

When I asked for tips on staying productive in a co-working space, practically everyone said they bring headphones. Go one step further and buy an extra set of headphones you can always keep in your laptop bag. That way, you’ll never forget them.

Some people use standard earbuds to play music or talk radio, while others invest in more expensive noise-cancelling headphones for a truly quiet experience. If you intend to play music or other audio, make sure the volume is low enough that no one around you can hear it.

In addition to carrying headphones, you must keep charging cords and cables for all your devices on you at all times. If you’re prone to forgetting them and leaving them at home, buy back-up cords and leave them in your bag.

2. If you forget something, ask

If you do forget something essential, such as a phone charger, set of headphones, or HDMI cable, ask someone who works at the co-working space if he or she has one that you can borrow. Some co-working spaces, such as WeWork (which has locations across the US, and one in London) may even have more unexpected resources. Ben Kessler, Director of Marketing & Communications at WeWork says community managers typically have a stock of disposable toothbrushes, mouthwash, and even sewing kits.

3. Book meeting rooms for quiet time early and late in the day

Martha Smith, head of social media for the online shopping and swapping site Swapdom.com, works from an open-plan co-working space that she sometimes finds distracting. When she needs to focus on projects that require a lot of concentration, she makes use of the conference rooms and meeting rooms, but she tries to only reserve blocks of time at the very beginning and end of the day, when fewer people need them.

4. Use temporary, private spaces when you don’t need a full membership

Sometimes even a private meeting room isn’t private enough to get your work done, depending on what your work is. For example, actors need a space to rehearse where they can speak out loud – and they might only need a space for two hours every so often rather than all day, five days a week. Julien Smith founded a company called Breather that rents small, private, office-like spaces to individuals who need them for as little as 30 minutes. Breather’s locations cover New York and Montreal, with offices in more cities, including San Francisco, said to be coming soon.

5. Treat common areas like sacred spaces

Co-working environments almost always have their own bathrooms and kitchenette or break room. In both co-working spaces and more traditional office settings, people are very sensitive about the condition of these shared spaces, so tread lightly. Scrupulously clean up after yourself. Never leave anything in the sink (ever), and report problems like a lack of soap in the dispensers immediately.

Originally published on IT Pro Portal, April 28, 2013.

Office Products to Support Posture

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As a follow-up to our first post of the month on office posture, here’s a list of products that will help keep your back straight, your shoulders relaxed, and create an overall sense of comfort while working at your desk.

First, an ergonomic office chair is key for healthy working. If this is not available to you, consider acquiring a backrest to place at your chair. This will provide support by easing some of the pressure of sitting in an uncomfortable office chair.

Another essential item to consider is one that provides support to your wrists. This could be achieved by using a keyboard or mouse-pad wrist rest. Be sure to use these so that your wrists remain as flat and supported as possible.

Finally, a monitor arm is an excellent tool for easily positioning and adjusting a computer screen. By placing the screen at a comfortable height and appropriate distance, you can avoid any neck strain from tilting your head.

Soothing Back Pain by Learning How to Sit Again

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In light of Correct Posture Month, the New York Times published an article, The Posture Guru of Silicon Valley, about instructor Esther Gokhale. She attempts to soothe the back pain of those hard-working Californians plagued with “Silicon Valley syndrome,” by “reintroducing her clients to… the ‘primal posture’.” Gokhale explains that this posture was “common among our ancestors before slouching became a way of life.”

From Matt Drudge of the Drudge Report, to one of Google’s senior vice presidents, Susan Wojcicki, Gokhale has trained thousands of workers “chained to their technology… hunched over desktops, laptops, smartphones and tablets.” Like these Silicon Valley executives and board or staff members, many office workers in the U.S. sit at desks all day, which “goes hand in hand with back, neck and shoulder discomfort.” (Any of this ringing uncomfortable bells?)

Gokhale offers an accessible, non-surgical approach to back pain treatment by reteaching students how to “sit, stand, sleep and walk” in an "upright and relaxed" stance. See below for some of Gokhales tips for elongating and stacking the spine into a tall J-shape:

  • Relax the front of the pelvis downward
  • The belt line should slant forward
  • The rear should angle back so “your behind is behind you, not under you”
  • Hold the rib cage flush with the stomach
  • Roll your shoulders up and gently bring them back and down
  • Re-center your head over you spine

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Correct Office Posture

In honor of Correct Posture Month, we turned to Spine Health for some tips on comfortable work posture. If you spend hours of your workday in front of the computer (don’t we all), read on for ways to avoid the pain and strain that comes along with the job.

Spine Health contributors, John J. Triano, DC, PhD and Nancy C. Selby, BS, suggest the following to help avoid back or neck pain at the office:

  • Adopt a user-friendly workstation by adjusting the position of your office chair, computer, and desk
  • Modify your sitting posture. Many people sit towards the front of their chair and end up hunching forward to look at their screens. The better seated posture is to sit back in your office chair, utilizing the chair’s lumbar support to keep your head and neck erect.
  • Take stretch breaks and walking breaks when sitting in an office chair for long periods.

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In order to ensure your workstation is “user-friendly," consider the following adjustments:

  • Choose the right surface height (standing, sitting, or semi-seated) for your work. Ex: Architects and draftsman may want a higher surface for drawing, while traders and other people performing computer-entry work could be seated or standing (depending on the necessary job tools). Finally, work surface height depends on the physical height of the individual worker.
  • Adjust your seat so your work surface is "elbow high.” Also consider the following: A fist should be able to pass easily behind the calf and in front of the seat edge to keep the back of the legs from being pressed too hard and the feet from swelling. Two fingers should slip easily under each thigh. If not, use a couple of telephone books or a footrest to raise the knees level with the hips. The backrest of the office chair should push the low back forward slightly. If these adjustments cannot be adequately made with the existing office chair, a different make or type of chair may be considered.
  • Adjust the height of your computer screen. Once you have made adjustments to your chair, close your eyes and relax. Then, slowly reopen them. Where your gaze initially focuses should be the center-point of your screen. If necessary, use books or a stand to raise the height of your screen.

Happy posture fixing! Also, keep an eye out for our next post about specific products that can help with your office posture.