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Cornered Office

with Mir Kamin

I'm a freelance writer and mother of two working from home, which theoretically means I can set my own schedule so as to best accommodate my family. In reality, "flexible hours" often equals "working too much." Yes, I'm my own boss; no, that doesn't mean life is easy. It's hard to leave the office when you live there. But I love what I do and feel very lucky. And not just because I get paid to work in my pajamas.

To learn more about Mir, check out her profile on Work It, Mom! or visit her blog at

Stand up and get to work

Categories: Like talking but with more typing, Now I'm free(lancing), Things you should be reading


There was a whole slew of articles this past year about how those of us who sit at a desk all day are going to drop dead at any minute. Oh, I kid. It’s not quite that bad, but the statistics, nonetheless, were pretty horrifying: Sit at a desk for six or more hours a day, and your risk of dying in the next fifteen years is 40% higher compared to those who spend the bulk of their time on their feet. That’s a sobering thought, no?

If you haven’t seen it yet, and you want the quick visual rundown, Mashable did a great infographic on the topic that kind of gives you the highlights. Basically, the human body is not designed to sit for long periods of time. Even exercising hasn’t been shown to mitigate the deleterious effects of long-term sitting.

And the cut-off point that I keep hearing is 6 hours. Truth? I probably sit at my desk for closer to 9 or 10 hours each day. And when I’m done, what do I do? I go sit at the table for dinner, and then I go sit on the couch for a few hours.

Needless to say, I’m not quite ready to just say “Oh, well!” and make peace with the fact that I could be sitting my way to an early grave. Nor am I feeling like I can just give up my writing career.

Longtime readers know that I am not terribly active, and my efforts to exercise more are sometimes successful in the short-term, but rarely do I develop long-term healthier habits. So any such promises to myself about getting up every single hour to run around the house or whatever seemed unlikely to stick.

Last week, I turned 40. The big 4-0! My family showered me with love and goodies, and—tucked in amongst the various just-because gifts—my husband also gave me a small standing desk for my office.

I have a large computer at my desk, but I also have a laptop. So, here’s the new strategy at Mir Headquarters: The standing desk is not nearly as comfortable for typing at as my regular desk (in order to have the monitor at a comfortable height, the keyboard is just a little too high to be an ideal ergonomic setup), so for most of my production, I still sit at my main desk. But for most of my consumption, I now get up and work from the standing desk.

That means I do most of my writing sitting down, still, but I read and respond to email and check blogs and such while standing up.

Sometimes I even work from the standing desk, just to make a point. Like now. I’m standing here writing about this, because I totally get believing that “I’m young, I’m not overweight, I’m relatively healthy, this doesn’t apply to me.” It does apply to me, and to you, too, if you spend all day sitting. I don’t know about you, but I want to be here to see my kids grow up, and I want to see their kids grow up, too. And I would feel completely stupid if I ended up dying too young because I couldn’t be bothered to stand up.

A small standing desk is relatively inexpensive and doesn’t take up much room. (This one is mine, and while it’s not going to win me any interior decorating awards, it works just fine.) I’m shocked at how easily I’ve been able to incorporate the up-down-up-down thing into my day without it feeling like a major distraction. Heck, when I’m just standing here reading stuff online, I do some stretches, too.

I say this to you as a recovering sloth, in the most loving way possible: Get up.

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8 comments so far...

  • I’ve been using a counter high desk for a while — a hold over from working from the kitchen countertop while my son was a baby — but my husband is a relatively new convert. For his home office, he cobbled together a standing desk from things around the house & his company bought him a real one for his work office. The thing we both notice is that we have MUCH more energy throughout the day when we’re standing — the dreaded 3-4pm slump is gone! We may live longer due to less caffeine consumption alone, lord knows we’re saving money on coffee around here!

    (We’re both writers and once you get used to it, writing while standing is no different than while sitting - but you’re right to watch the ergonomics!)

    Lori N  |  August 23rd, 2011 at 12:26 pm

  • Well crap.

    Is it time for me to build that treadmill desk I’ve been dreaming of?

    Stimey  |  August 23rd, 2011 at 12:33 pm

  • I have never heard of a standing desk before, but I totally want one now. :)

    Angella  |  August 23rd, 2011 at 1:13 pm

  • Not something I’ve ever considered, but you can bet I’m thinking about it now. Thanks!

    jennifer gray  |  August 23rd, 2011 at 1:20 pm

  • I keep my laptop on the kitchen counter and write either standing or sitting on counter height chairs. I don’t like to sit too long, so I hop off and stand for a while.

    Barbara Saunders  |  August 23rd, 2011 at 1:58 pm

  • Excellent inforgraphic! I try to get up several times a day, but needed this kick in the pants. :) Thanks!

    el-e-e  |  August 23rd, 2011 at 3:09 pm

  • So hard to do at the office - standing over your desk in heels - when you’re already taller is just bleh. But the computer at home is at a good standing height - and now I’ll be just fine with my daughter wanting to stand while playing on the computer.

    Because I’m sure, in another 3 years, there’s going to be a study about standing in one place for X amount of time shortening your life. Personally I think the crappy genes (higher than avg cancer rates from both sides) I got are most likely to shorten my life span so I’m not going to sweat the rest of it too much.

    Mich  |  August 24th, 2011 at 3:00 pm

  • I was wondering what a standing desk was until I clicked the link. Now I get it — it’s a cow (or Computer on Wheels at the hospital). Looks like a good solution to move around more.

    Colleen  |  September 1st, 2011 at 12:26 pm