When I asked for reader questions a couple of weeks ago, a loyal lurker emailed a query rather than leaving it as a comment on the post, but that’s okay, because she’s one of my favorites. In fact, she apparently remembers a post from a couple of years ago when I triumphantly announced my acquisition of a standing desk, because here’s the question:
I am curious to know about your experience with your stand-up desk. Still using it? What percentage of your day do you suppose you use it? Is it a block of time or interspersed? Some activities but not others? Do you feel better? Do you have to force yourself to use it because it’s good for you?
This is where I’m supposed to assure everyone that I use it all the time and I’ve lost weight, lowered my cholesterol, and my hair is inexplicably shinier. Right? I mean, I suppose that would be a better answer than what I’m about to say.
And really the short version of the truth is, “Hi, my name is Mir, and I am a terrible, unhealthy person.”
It all started out with the best of intentions, of course. In the beginning I was pretty good about only checking email and such from a standing position, on my laptop, sitting down at my regular desk again only for longer writing assignments. I stuck with it for several months and felt very virtuous.
But then… we traveled for the holidays, which meant I was working here and there between family gatherings, on unfamiliar couches and at other people’s kitchen tables and sometimes even stuffed in the car, and by the time we got back my routine was ruined, life had begun to get complicated in a hundred other ways, and then… all my virtue, gone. My kid was sick, my household was upside-down, and for those rare times when I managed to cobble together enough minutes to get some work done, I really didn’t care if I was sitting.
Now, that was last year. Do I have a good excuse about why I’m not using it now? Nope. I’m just out of practice. I only recently (like, in 2013) got back to a semi-regular exercise plan, and you’d think the desk thing would be easier than that, and yet here I am. Sitting. At my regular desk.
The standing desk is just behind me, mocking me.
So to answer the actual questions…
1) No, I am not (currently) still using it. But this may be the swat on the behind I need to get back to it, because now I’ve publicly admitted to being a sloth.
2) When I was using it, I’d say even then I was maybe only using it for 2-3 hours/day. But that’s still cutting down my sitting-at-the-desk time by as much as a third, so that’s not bad.
3) I generally did one stint in the morning and one in the afternoon (both times, to deal with email, read blogs—things that did not require long periods of writing like assignments). This answers the “some activities but not others” question as well, because, as I’d pointed out when I first got it, the setup for me on the standing desk is not as ergonomic as at my regular desk, and therefore I purposely avoided using it for long stints of writing.
4) You know, I think I actually did feel better when I was doing that. How stupid am I that I’m not doing it now??
5) But yeah, I did kind of have to force myself. Then again, that doesn’t mean much of anything; I still have to force myself to exercise, and even when I feel better because I’m doing it, I still kind of hate it. I am a couch potato by nature, I’m afraid. That doesn’t mean I can’t change my behavior—I do, with some regularity—but I’ve given up on that mystical ideal of a time when I just love exercising or working standing up feels better than sitting in a comfy chair.
Somehow I think this was not what my questioner was hoping to hear, but it is the truth. And now I’m going to get back into using the standing desk, just to combat the shame….