When the idea for a standing desk first appeared on my horizon, I was working at the Quaker retreat, study and conference center, Pendle Hill. My friend and coworker, artist Lawrence Sexton shared an article from a men’s health magazine, about the dangers of sitting at a desk all day long. He and I subsequently made a point of standing up whenever we spoke to each other on the phone—or better yet, walking the short distance to the other’s office, and standing while we conversed. (Pendle Hill also has a tradition of “stand up” staff meetings, which keeps them short.)
Around the same time, I read a piece in the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Bulletin of January-February 2011, called “Treadmill Desks: Learning to Walk, Chew Gum, and Write at the Same Time” by Arthur Slade and Jöelle Anthony. You have to be a member to access the SCBWI Bulletin archives, but you can read Jöelle’s blog post and view Arthur’s video.
I knew I wanted to try a standing desk, because of ergonomics, as well as the health benefits. Because I’m short waisted, it’s always been hard to arrange a desk setup that works well—monitor level with my face, forearms on a slight downward angle from the elbow. With a laptop, of course, it’s impossible. I looked at outrageously expensive models of standing desks on the internet. I looked at cheap home made ideas, but I’m not really a do-it-yourselfer. Finally I had the brainstorm. I took an old tall chest of drawers, pulled out one drawer, and balanced across it a short wooden plank that I found in the basement. I parked my laptop on top, and borrowed a wireless keyboard from my daughter’s tablet. Voilá! A standing desk.
I can worry about the treadmill part later. Or not. But for now, I’m just excited to have the standing desk. The next challenge is to get myself to it every day.