Jul 072015
 

Hej, Hello and Ni Hao!

Vacation time is here which means we can finally spend more time working…

As a person (I dislike that phrase) that spends most time with my face planted in in or around a computer and have done so for quite a few years, ergonomics grow more and more important, this is one of those things I wish I had care about from the start. Every now and then I get the pains, I remember when I first started working with Unity3D when I all of the sudden needed to use the mouse more frequently and my wrist just up and quit on me, and also as someone that is used to sit like a broken bag of spaghetti I am not unfamiliar with back pains. What it all boils down to is quality of life and to make sure you can 5, 20, 60 years from now continue with what I hope is a great passion of yours, as it is for me so I so I hope this can turn you from that to this.

Krister ergonomics transformation

Krister transformation

There are in my mind two things you can actively do to keep your physique in check, one of the most important things are EXERCISE! Yes, I went there, I said it… It works, it really really does and I do it and try to do it often and I just as most of us sometimes fall out of it when everyday (our greatest enemy) comes knocking on our door. I will however not talk about exercise as that is Jonas table as our king of the gym and ruler of the treadmill.

No, I will talk about your desk setup, from my perspective as a programmer but of course this can apply to anyone in front of a computer.

OK, let us begin with talking about some of the hazards we face long term spending so much time in front our computers.

  • Loss of muscle mass – If you don’t use your muscle they will fade a way possibly leading to weight gain and any physical activity will just be a chore.
  • Heart – Your heart will suffer, and with a bad heart you are looking at pain and early death, your heart are greatly effected on your life and when you sit in front of a computer as often as we do, some might tend to not exercise, eat poorly, smoke and so on and so on, I’m not saying stop if that is what you do but be aware of the consequences, be smart and find a balance.
  • Mental health – We often get stuck in front of the screen when we do what we love or just can not take a break because we are in the flow, that is whether we are aware of it or not quite stressful, and stress is something that will tear you down, it will not only strain you physically but also emotional, it is known to cause headaches, decreased concentration, irritability and so on, and all of this will of course spill out into every other aspect of your life.
  • Posture – As I told you earlier, I usually sit like a broken bag of spaghetti, this will effect your posture, it will effect your neck / back, how you sit or stand and work will effect your back, elbows, neck, hands and everything very badly, this if as far as I am aware my biggest issue which lead to me thinking about and doing something about my situation, I think this is the first warning you get that you are doing something wrong.

I am far from an expert so this is just my thoughts spewed out in the beginning of my vacation, I might not even make sense, I do not no.

But I did quite recently rethink my setup because while in a exercise slump of way too long I have yet again been in pain, and yet again I have the finance to do something about it, this is the as of now result.

Programmer Desktop Setup

My Desk Setup

Ikea Galant / Bekant sit and standing desk

Sit / Stand Desk

So what brought this whole post in is that I bought an electric desk, you can turn it to a desk you can sit at, or a desk you can stand at, and I got to say that it might be one of the biggest changes for me except for my working mouse that I will get to shortly.

Standing have made my back pains go away and having a stool to lean against in either standing or sitting position is great, it is the possibilities that does it, I can have variation, I can sit or I can stand and either way I have something to lean at or sit on if I feel I need it.

One of the first things I noticed after a day of work was my feet, that is why I placed a yoga carpet on the floor next to my foot stand that makes me sit like a human being when I am tired of standing, and yes, it does work.

This standing “around” have really gotten to me, I even play games standing now, so behind my ever so important three monitor setup I have my PS4 at my fingertips for a not so quick break when needed, something that is also work related of course. Having a three monitor setup I have to say is awesome, it really helps a lot, having a screen dedicated for micro breaks (that might be better spent away from desk) or a screen for reference / reading just diminishes that stress for some reason.

Another thing that reduces stress is cable management, something I am notoriously bad at, not

Cable management

Cable management

from lack of knowledge but rather the energy that goes into doing it ONCE! My setup is complete (even though I always find a reason to adding a new cable every now and then) I just need to do this once, this time I made it halfway through but still I feel more at ease about it.

Well I will finally end this post by talking about my input devices, I mentioned my mouse earlier.

It all started when I was introduced to Unity and similar tools, I was used to programming, when I code I use the keyboard exclusively but with engines like Unity3D and Unreal I needed to work more in editors even thoug I have made my own earlier and worked in them it was not exactly the same, it did not take long before I the pain in my wrist showed up as I could no longer solely rely on keyboard shortcuts to do my work so I started looking into alternative input devices, I tested to, a pen mouse from PenClic which felt like a solid device but I just could not get use to working with one, it was not for me so I turned to a vertical mouse, I befriended it quickly and there are several ones on the market, I took the Evoluent E4 mouse to heart even though it felt a bit light and plastic but it has stayed with me through thick and thin and wow I have not had any pain in my wrist since then, I can hihgly recommend it for working (gaming not so much).

Evoluent Vertical E4 mouse

Evoluent Vertical mouse

PS.

I want to mention a special shout out that is not related to your work space or how you take care of your body, but rather your mental state and how it can greatly improve your life and thus your working situation.

I’m talking about your social life… I find myself pulled between the joy of work and the joy of life, and it really is a balance you need to keep in check, I have been the shut in just working and happily done so but sooner or later that life will catch up to you. you never know how, it can be physical or mental but all symptoms can scare you away from your passion and that is why we need balance, and it is worth it as it will greatly improve your life in every way. You need to find a reason not to stare on your screen for the rest of you life even if it sounds great now.

It does not matter if it’s another hobby, like… I do not know… Pottery, urban exploration, exercise, sewing, walking or getting some friends or partner(s) that just don’t give a shit about computers. You will then when in front of your computer work more focused and just feel better about it. This is something most of us learn sooner or later but do it know, do not wait for it. Grab life by the appropriate expression and get some balance and diversity into your life.

DS.

Hope some of this helped.
Krister

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