image from All Posters
Most people nowadays working in offices across the globe are spending the vast majority of their day at a desk in front of a computer. The average is 4.5 hours per day that is spent at a work desk. This adds up to more than 46 full days per year! Spending that much time at a desk, it is important to gain the habit of having effective & productive manners so that you get the most out of your time at this desk. Here are some tips to help you work better at your workstation:
If you want to remain alert and motivated throughout your work day, you need to sit up straight. Although you may find slouching relatively more comfortable, the truth is that your productivity goes down the more you slouch. If you want to get things done effectively and more quickly, sit up straight. Slight lack of comfort keeps you awake and less likely to slack off. As well, it looks a lot more professional, and if you are working in an office environment, looking more professional is essential if you want to advance in your position or for people to take you more seriously and gain the respect of your peers.
The ideal position to sit in, is with your knees bent at a 90 degree angle, firmly touching the ground underneath. Make sure that you get a chair that is the proper size for your frame. Someone who is 6 foot 2 cannot be comfortable in a chair for someone that is 5 foot 4, and vice versa. Also, make sure that your chair can easily roll, so that you can move within your work area with ease. A chair that can’t roll properly gets quite annoying, and makes any movement that much more cumbersome.
Are you getting tired, watery eyes from all that staring at your computer screen? Chances are, it’s probably too close for you. I used to have that problem. Working on a computer became almost miserable. I had tried anti-glaring screens, and such, but I finally resolved my issue when I moved my screen from 12 inches away to about 24 inches away. If you have trouble seeing the screen from that distance, either use bigger fonts or you should seriously get your eyes checked. As well, your eyes should be parallel to the top 1/3 part of the screen. Ideally, you should not have to move your neck up or down to properly view the screen. Properly positioning your screen will help you work long hours without having your eyes burning or feeling eye exhaustion.
Along with the screen position, the lighting in your office may very well be the reason why your eyes are tired and droopy. The key here is to find a happy medium. You do not want too little or too much. The best is to position your desk near a window and allow the light of the day to light up your work station. However, if that is not possible, try adding a desk lamp and position it to the side of your screen, slightly above in height. I find that this helps a lot, especially since I have known many offices to have extremely poor lighting that would just drive employees crazy! It’s your work station, do what you can to improve it 😉
If you do not properly position your keyboard, you may become a prime candidate for carpal tunnel syndrome, and let me tell you, it is PAINFUL! To prevent this from happening, you should try to keep the wrist in a neutral position, meaning the line from the hand to the forearm should be straight. The hand can be a little lower than the forearm, however the hand should never be higher, and the wrist should not be bent.
The keyboard should be positioned relatively low (I use the belly button as a reference. At the same level as the belly button is low enough), keeping the hand slightly lower than the elbow. Try aiming for a 90 degree angle at your elbow, so adjust the arm supports on your chair to fit for that position. If possible, have a keyboard with a wrist pad to alleviate some of the stress that comes from typing. Also, try not to type too hard! Press the keys softly, and you will be able to type for longer periods of time without having to deal with pain in your fingers or hand. Your hands are your most prized working tool, so do your best to avoid any injury to them.
Food & drink etiquette
Your desk should be used for its intended purposes only. It is not the cafeteria or the dining room. Taking the habit of associating your desk with work only, will make you much more productive, as you will recognize your desk as that place where work needs to be done, and nothing else. However, it is very important to have a drink with you at all times. Ideally water, but you should always drink throughout your working hours, as it is crucial to keeping you hydrated and thus avoiding feeling tired or lazy.
Process papers/mail right away
Nobody could be properly motivated and productive with a stack of papers lying around waiting to be dealt with. I know I don’t! I used to have the bad habit of just opening mail and then leaving it on the desk. Then it would just add up, to the point where I would look at it and be completely discouraged to go through it. The best way is to file it, process it, right away. There is no need to keep opened envelopes and other junk mail onto your work area. The same can be said about faxes and bills. Do whatever needs to be done to them but get them out of the way. A clear desk leads to a clear mind, which is needed for better productivity.
Cut down on the lists, notes, post-its
To be fair, some people have notes all over the place and still get their work done. However, it’s a sign of being disorganized. Who do you think will be in line for the next promotion, the good candidate with the clean looking desk, or the good candidate with the desk where you can barely see the screen among the wall of yellow post-its? The best way to deal with the million items that we have to keep track of on a daily basis is to use a notebook, where you can write all your notes, information, and the likes, that you can easily close and put away when your work day is over. It’s more efficient and it also keeps all such information a little more private.
Keep it dust-free
Take the habit of cleaning your desk of all dust on a daily basis. Computers, screens, and keyboards are notorious for gathering dust, and being in such close proximity to these items for such long periods of time every day can be hazardous to your health if they are not properly sanitized. Taking a few minutes each morning to dust off your work station is very much worth it. You will see your screen better, your hands will not be subject to tons of bacteria, and you will breathe better. Proper breathing is key to feeling upbeat and motivated.
Get up, move around, stretch!
Working such long hours in the same position is not natural. We humans need to move around a lot. Take a few minutes every 30-60 minutes to get up, stretch, go for a quick walk, etc. You will find this refreshing, and it will help get your blood flow going, which will increase your energy and motivation, and put you in a better mood. As well, sometimes taking a breather helps as far as analyzing our own work and putting ideas together. Stepping out for a little bit helps to see things clearer than when we are fully submerged into our work. This can help in noticing errors and needed corrections & change, which only helps you in providing better quality work overall.