It’s no secret that sitting at a desk can kill you. Humans are not sedentary creatures, but our modern lifestyles have forced us to spend far longer sitting down than standing up. It has severe implications for our weight, posture and ultimately our lifespan.
So what is a creative professional to do when sitting makes us fat, gives us a bad back and damages our health? There are quite a few things you can do.
Speaking from tried and tested experience, here are Creative Boom’s ten ways to make your creative workspace healthier and more productive.
1. Consider a standing desk
Not just a trendy new requirement, the standing desk is increasingly becoming essential for the health-conscious creative. There are plenty of models available, including IKEA's recent (and popular) version, the Bekant.
Personally, we’d go for supporting a UK independent such as Manchester-based furniture and cabinet maker, Jeffay Furniture who create beautifully solid oak adjustable desks. We have two ourselves and love the ability to move the desk up and down to take turns between sitting and standing.
2. Get an ergonomic chair
Let’s face it; you’re not going to spend all day standing up. So make sure you get a decent chair for your workspace. There are plenty of ergonomic office chairs on the market these days, but one of the very best, one we continually recommend, is the Herman Miller Aeron Chair. It’s ergonomic heaven and an absolute must.
From personal experience, my back pain has disappeared since I purchased my own. If you can’t afford a brand new model, do what I did and check out Scott Howard for perfectly good reconditioned versions.
3. Look at ergonomic desk accessories
Our keyboard and mouse setup cause some of the most common Repetitive Strain Injuries. Having to reach for things and type constantly can lead to all kinds of physical health issues. Which is why you should consider changing your accessories.
The Key Mouse is a pretty new phenomenon, soon to be launched onto the market following a successful Kickstarter campaign. Combining the keyboard and mouse into a more ergonomic and efficient device, your hands can stay comfortably in the same position while you move the mouse.
Or check out Apple’s Magic Trackpad and let your fingers do all the clicking, scrolling and swiping. Great for those of you who suffer from neck or shoulder problems, moving a mouse around all day.
4. Raise your monitor (or lower it)
One of the easiest ways to ensure great posture is to look at your monitor and how high or low it stands on your desk. The golden rule is that your eyes should naturally be at the same level as the top of your monitor, and it also should be arm’s length away from your chair.
To further improve things, purchase an adjustable monitor stand such as the Satechi F1 Smart Monitor Stand. It has an amazing capability to clean up all the clutter and mess of electronics on your desk, offers four USB ports and can be adjusted at two different heights to match your preferred level.
5. Make the best use of all possible shortcuts
As creatives, we’re constantly flipping between one task and another or moving from browsing the web to flipping back into our software/apps. It can prove quite time-consuming and make us desk-bound longer than necessary.
In which case, find and make the best use of any possible shortcuts. For example, on your Mac there’s a beautiful app called Alfred, which saves you time searching for files on your computer. You can also be more productive with hotkeys, keywords and file actions at your fingertips.
Or check out Flow, an intuitive and precise wireless controller that is a programmable shortcut to your favourite actions. It’s a tool perfect for graphic design, video editing or CAD where you can make the things you love fast, precise, intuitive and fun. Available to pre-order.
6. Consider using a Sun or SAD Light
When you live in the UK, winter can be a depressing time. It goes dark too early, and even during lighter hours, the sky seems to take on a permanent grey hue. We all need a little daily sunshine to activate a personal dose of Vitamin D and make us happy, so consider purchasing a ‘Sun’ or ‘SAD’ light and placing it on your desk.
The iwaku wake-up light adjusts to your sleep cycle and doubles as a light box for some effective light therapy. Or you could try the ever popular SAD Light Box, available on Amazon and other retailers.
7. Get some office plants
Research suggests that plants in your workspace can improve productivity, increase your concentration and make you happier and less stressed. Probably the cheapest recommendation of this list, a plant for your desk will do wonders for your health.
Plants are even thought to clear any toxins in the air, so they make a perfect natural air purifier. Visit and support your local garden centre by purchasing a few green plants.
8. Take regular breaks
Taking regular breaks from our desks is good for us. Just a chance to stretch our legs and take a few moments away from being hunched over our work is incredibly beneficial. If you’re useless at remembering to ‘take five’, why not use a helpful app, such as Stand Up! or Awareness.
When you’ve done that, consider other parts of your day when you can avoid sitting down. For example, it may seem a tad hip for us Brits, but why not arrange a few ‘walking’ meetings where you and your client meet somewhere for a pleasant stroll to conduct your regular catchup?
9. Take afternoon naps
If huge global companies, such as Google, are allowing their staff to take naps because they understand the benefit of recharging one’s batteries, then it’s good enough for us! Join the power-napping revolution and enjoy a 20-minute snooze to boost your health and productivity levels.
If you don’t fancy moving far from your desk, check out the Ostrich Pillow, a lightweight, portable and wearable pillow that you can take anywhere, to allow you to nap on the go.
10. Most of all, keep moving
You know what they say, we’ve got to keep moving to stay fit and healthy. So if you’ve got the space, create a little home or office gym. Put one of those pull-up bars over one of your doors and carry out random pull-ups throughout your working day. Get down on the floor and do a few push-ups while you’re at it. Hey, don’t laugh! It's serious stuff. It’s all in the name of good health.
If you really want to push the boat out, then check out the Cubii Under-Desk Elliptical. The Cubii helps you get basic exercise while you work and takes multitasking to the next level.