How to apply ergonomics to your desk setup
You should never have to reach or strain in any way for your tools. Straining is what causes alignment issues that can massively affect your performance — even if you don’t realise it.
Adjust your chair height so that your elbows are at a 90-degree angle. Forearms should be flat on the desk and elbows close (but not too close) to the body.
Your feet, meanwhile, should be flat on the ground. If you’re shorter, and adjusting your chair height so that your feet are flat on the ground results in an awkward elbow angle, get a footstool, some books, or a stack of paper that your feet can rest on in a flat position. Your knees should also be at 90 degrees. These positions promote optimal blood circulation.
The tools your desk needs now
Adjust your computer monitor so that the top of the screen is at eye-level. You can achieve this with a laptop kickstand, or by, of course, adjusting your monitor on a desktop PC.
Get an external keyboard and a mouse, and position the keyboard so that it’s not too far away nor too close. Position your mouse so that you’re pivoting from your elbow.
If you use the phone a lot — for interviews or customer service, for example — get yourself a headset so that you don’t create strain by trying to balance the phone in the crook of your neck.
Keep your notepad and pen on your dominant side so that you can easily jot down notes when you need to. This is an important practice for keeping your mind clutter-free. Essentially, any thoughts that don’t pertain directly to the task at hand should be written down on this notepad and reviewed later, when you’ve completed your task, or at the end of your workday.
Keep your phone on your non-dominant side so that when someone calls, you are in an optimal position to pick up your phone with your non-dominant hand and take notes with the other, without having to strain.
Game-changing desk hacks
Keep a set of headphones nearby — even if you don’t make many calls throughout the day — for times when there are loud noises happening around you. During those times, you can simply pop in your headphones and select one of your preferred ambient audio channels (here’s a list of playlists we recommend). Not only will it drown out the noise, but studies show that listening to certain types of ambient music (the kind without words) can actually improve your productivity and boost your spirits.
You can also try keeping a pomodoro timer on your desk (find out more on this productivity technique here). Make sure you get up and move around your desk every time it goes off. This, too, will help increase circulation and keep your mind fresh, which will help you work more efficiently and effectively.
The ‘one thing’ rule
Set up your desk for a singular purpose. When you’re working, take everything off your desk that you don’t need for your job. By the same token, make sure you have all the tools you need to get through your workday placed in easily accessible spots, so that you don’t have to break your focus to get up and look around for something when you’re in the zone.
Consider under-desk storage or a shelving unit to store anything that you don’t need at that moment. Out of sight, out of mind is the principle here — if you don’t see it, it won’t take up any precious space in your mind, so that you can focus better on the task at hand.
Make it pretty
Make your desk aesthetically pleasing and presentable. It should reflect your personality. Put up photos of your friends and family that conjure clear and vivid memories. When you stimulate that part of your brain, it also jumpstarts the creative process. Inspirational quotes, photos, and examples of your work can have a similar effect.
Add greenery, too. It’s scientifically proven to help us feel better! Studies show that hospital patients who are surrounded by greenery tend to feel better faster. Plants also have the added bonus of cleaning the air and rounding out a minimalist aesthetic, should that be your thing.
Taking some time to optimise your desk setup is something so simple that it’s often forgotten. Take just five minutes at the end of your day to declutter your desk and reset it using the principles above, and you’ll be enroute to more productive, more enjoyable workdays.