Stand and Wobble to Get Shit Done

by bsrubin on October 31, 2012

I’ve been hacking my desk recently.  By optimizing your work space you can set yourself up for both productivity and health.  Here is my desk:

Let’s go through it.

Stand Up!

A ton has been written on the value of standing up while you work – and the negative health impacts of sitting (see awesome infographic Sitting is Killing You.)

My take is that while the health impacts benefits are nice – I love the IMMEDIATE boost in *productivity* by standing up and having excellent posture.  It energizes and focuses me.

If you insist on sitting – sit like a yogi.

or on a ball chair (which forces good seated posture.)

Best is the standing desk.  It took me quite a while to get used to this – and I aborted many times due to back pain, laziness, etc.  Stick with it.

Getting a standing desk can be tough.  Wired has a good guide on a standing desk – there are tons of options and even ways to convert your standard desk into a standing desk.

I chose this drawing table and use it as a desk.  It’s beautiful and minimalist – and it cranks up to 40 inches.  I’ll stick a riser on it to optimize height for ergonomics later – but for now it’s working well.

Walk, Wobble, or Vibrate

So we’ve got you standing – excellent.  It’s even better to remain actually active while you are working.

I’m currently standing on a nice balance board.

This is a cheap and simple way to keep muscles working.  Right now I can stand on it for about 25 minutes until it gets a bit tiring – so I’m cycling it.  I expect I’ll very shortly be able to stand on this all day long and work stabilizers and core lightly.  I’m also dancing/wobbling a bit to my music.  Sweet!

In the slightly more expensive but potentially awesome category are the treadmill desk and the vibration plate.

Walk while you work.  ie. the treadmill desk.

I’ve heard great things from friends about this – but haven’t tried it myself.  I’d love to see studies or anecdotes comparing this to just standing or standing on a balance board.

I’ve also heard good things about a weighted vest while working - although I haven’t seen the research and would build up slowly.

And last – a crazy idea.  Whole Body Vibration is making a run at the weight loss and exercise market with relatively expensive machines that shake you up.  Check out PowerPlate or BulletProof Vibe for more on this.

By default these machines shake hard – would a lower setting for 8 hours a day product interesting benefits?


Ok – so I’m standing and wobbling right now.   What else about my setup is contributing to my productivity?

  • Minimal Clutter – Keeps me focused and relaxed.  This includes lack of clutter on the screen – maximize your area of focus and minimize the rest.
  • Excellent View – I’ve got trees, a playground, and a bit of horizon.  It’s nice and calming.  My view of the mountains in Jackson Hole was spectacular – but I think just a bit of nature + serenity within view helps.  Could even be a small indoor garden.
  • High Energy Music – I rotate between GOGOGOGO high energy electronic/house music and lower key electronic for focus.  I try to keep vocals out of the mixture.  Since I’m mostly working at home I don’t need headphones – but find them invaluable in a work setting.
  • Coffee and Water – Within reach is energization and hydration.  I used to think coffee + butter was gross – until I stated blending it into tasty submission.  Check it out - BulletProof Coffee.
  • Technology – A simple + easy to use Ubuntu Linux setup, second monitor – and generally minimal frustration with my technical productivity tools.  Linux likely isn’t for everyone – but the core here is to get your technology working well and learn how to use it efficiently.  As an example of taking my own medicine – I should learn how to speed up my typing skills…

How do you put the place you work in excellent shape for productivity and health?  Is there a business opportunity around creating the optimal desk?



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