For quite a while now, I’ve been experiencing some neck and back problems. Both of these are fairly common with people like me who spend the majority of their time behind a computer. I’ve started going to a physiotherapist. Next to the exercises that I was given, here are a few of the other habits that I’m trying to change.

Time out

I easily get sucked into work. It’s not uncommon for me to suddenly notice it’s 3-4 hours later than when I last checked. It happens quite often that I either skip lunch or have lunch only after 2pm because I lose track of time.

When I got my new computer recently, I did some research on macOS apps that allow you to help with breaking more regularly. I landed on an app called Time Out. I became a paid backer to unleash all its features.

Every 45 minutes my screen is blurred for 1’30”. Even though I can skip it — which I reserve for video calls or chat support — I try to be very strict in the other cases. I use that time to at the very minimum stand up and move around a bit. Ideally, I also go for a short(ish) walk.

Every 15 minutes I get a 5” reminder that helps me to improve my posture.

Drink (and pee) more often

One of the simplest solutions my physio provided was to drink more. Water of course. Not only is drinking more water healthy; it also means that you need to go to the bathroom more frequently which forces you to take more frequent breaks.

Go the extra mile (and do it fast)

“Mile” maybe is a bit too ambitious, but whenever possible don’t go for the shortest distance. For example, in the above case of the toilet breaks, the co-working space where I work has two restrooms. One is about 30m away from where I sit, the other is about 100m away.

My gut feeling is to cut my time as short as possible and go for the close one, but based on the recommendations of my physio, I’ve started going to the farther one.

She also recommended that I do this at a fast pace. This changes my heartbeat and even a short toilet break can provide a tiny bit of extra health points.

Ergonomics

Finally, I try to be a bit more careful in my office setup. Here are a few things I’ve tried and tested:

  • After having had many problems with my wrists I switched to a Wacom Intuos tablet pen instead of a mouse almost 10 years ago. This has resulted in my mouse arm pretty much disappearing altogether.
  • I built a 10cm high monitor stand to raise my screen. Not only did it help with my back, it was a fun woodwork project on top of that.
  • Our company provides desk and chair allowance giving us the opportunity to select ergonomic options. I use a sit/stand desk and a Herman Miller Embody chair.
  • Finally, I try to regularly review guides on how to set up your desk (distances, angles, etc.) and make sure I comply to that.
The desktop stand I created
Example of a tutorial for setting up your desk

Published by Job

Hallo! I'm a Belgian living in Cape Town with a passion for education, training and WordPress, trying to combine the three at the WooCommerce team of Automattic. In my spare time I run an e-zine called CULTURESHOCK, and enjoy movies, music, photography, reading, travelling, good food and (Belgian) beer.

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