The first example of poor ergonomic set up came when we were sitting on the plane on our way to Perth to start our honeymoon. I glanced across the seats to a fellow passenger, and this is what I saw:
CRINGE! Oh the poor man's wrists! Not to mention his shoulders and neck!
While working with a laptop 'on the road' can't be avoided, here are a few tips to give your body a bit of a break.
CHANGE THE SET UP OR CHANGE YOUR POSTURE!
In an ideal world, along with your laptop you would carry an external wireless keyboard and mouse, and for extra points, a portable laptop stand that doubles as a document holder. You would have access to a desk and a chair that was either the right height for the desk, or was height adjustable.
In a not-so-ideal world (which is the case most of the time) where the set up can't be changed, here are some ways to change your posture:
- If there is no desk and you have to place the laptop on your lap, place a pillow on your lap first to bring it to a more usable height, and while you're getting pillows, get a couple to place behind your back to help you sit up straight and supported, as opposed to slouching into the lounge
- Still on the couch.. if you do have an external mouse (recommended), prop it up directly next to you with cushions topped with a small book or diary to give you a level surface with the keyboard
- If there is a desk and a chair, but the chair is too high and your feet aren't supported by the floor, place a pillow, phone book, or even upturned bin under your feet to bring your thighs up so that they are parallel or slightly sloping down to the floor
- Alternatively if the chair is too low and you're finding that you're hunching your shoulders up when typing at the high desk, place a pillow or two on the chair to raise your body up, and then again, find a footrest of some sort to bring your feet to a supported level.
- When on trains, taxis or planes, see if you can complete other tasks that don't require typing such as reviewing documents or making calls (when not flying of course).
- Above all else, when in situations where you know you're working posture is not good, get up and move around more often, at least every 30 minutes.. and give your body a break!
Until next time,