Monday, April 17, 2017

Tips for Surviving a Desk Job

In my March column I touched briefly on the difficulty of concentrating on work now that spring has arrived. The sunshine calls to me ... even if the air still has a sting to it.

So how does a writer, or any other desk-jockey profession, manage to keep their butt in the chair when there are so many things to distract? And, assuming we stay in our chairs, is that really good for us?

There are some definite “rules” for those who must spend an inordinate amount of time seated at a desk and tied to a computer. The following are just a few:

  • Invest in an ergonomic chair, comfy but not too plush. Your back, hips and legs need support. A couple of years ago I purchased a high-end office chair made by Serta® It’s the best $250 (on sale), I ever spent.

  • Take breaks every hour or two. Even if it’s only to walk around the house. Avoid making that walk a trek to the kitchen (coffee excepted, of course).

  • Familiarize yourself with desk-ercises. I’ve including a handy chart for a few suggestions.

  • Do NOT eat at your desk. Studies show, people who consume their meals, or even heavy snacks, at their desks tend to gain weight faster than those who are still sedentary but refrain from bringing food into their office area.

  • Keep a water bottle handy. Sip frequently rather than go without and then down an entire bottle at one time.

  • If you’re someone who can walk and type, consider a treadmill desk. However, WARNING: Studies have shown that a treadmill desk does not lead to weight loss or even weight management and has been shown to reduce overall productivity. Personally, I can’t picture being able to type complete chapters while walking. The treadmill desk works best for people whose jobs are phone-centric with only data entry (e.g., customer service call centers), rather than those who have to type expansive amounts of text.

  • Vary your work to stave off boredom. As a writer, I find breaking my work up into blocks for creating new work or switching between works-in-progress helps to keep my brain active and then my body follows. Usually.

  • Engage your brain. Stimulate your body’s energy by pushing the limits of your creativity. Think outside your normal genre. I’m currently in the final edit stage for a book so far out of my comfort zone it comes from outer space!

These are just a few ideas/suggestions for helping us survive our desk tether. Of course we still have to find a reasonable way to block out that enticing sunshine.

I’d love to hear what others do to keep themselves at their desk without tiring themselves out.
Until next month, keep writing, keep moving, keep engaged.



  1. Good ideas! I love the idea of the treadmill desk, but don't think it would work for me. I stood for 30 years at the day job--I'm kind of done with that. :-)

    1. I'd considered buying one until I read the stats on productivity. I can't imagine typing 10 pages while walking. I know my speed would slow down considerably.

  2. These are great ideas! I was wondering about the treadmill desk, but to be honest I'd not get any writing done. Thanks for the exercise chart!!

  3. I love this blog, Nancy! I also recommend an ergonomic chair. After serious back issues almost put a halt to my writing, I bought a Herman Miller Aeron (?) chair for about $700 and can now sit in front of my computer for 12 hours a day -- with breaks! Good advice on the breaks. I'm happy to learn the treadmill desks reduce productivity. Another reason for not making the leap. Thanks.

  4. My new Fitbit Alta warns me at 10 minutes to the hour that I haven't moved. It helps a lot!

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