Standing Desk: A Month of Standing

When I moved to France I was homesick and overwhelmed by the language and I remember thinking, if only I’d been here a month already. I was twenty-two. A month seemed like forever.

Now they fly by. It’s already been one month at my not-so-new standing desk! Here’s a quick recap:

Week One: this is awkward.

Week Two: this hurts.

Week Three: gel mat fabulousness! My amazing friends @citizensbrewco picked me up a gel mat on a run to Costco, and hand delivered it to my office.


I have since removed the sticker.

I continue to feel more productive when I’m standing, not because standing is an inherently more productive posture (although maybe it is?) but because, as I have said before, I am less inclined to get distracted. In part this is because it’s so easy to walk away – I’m already up, and if I’m in between things I can walk into the hall to get some water or pace back and forth while thinking about what I’m going to do next. I’ve also begun pacing while composing emails in my head, and then I will go back to the computer and actually type them. This instead of pathologically checking Facebook or Gawker, teeing up the next round of dream properties on Zillow, or scanning the latest rants from DCist.

I’m also engaging in more “deliberate sitting.” What does that mean? I used to stand or walk deliberately. I would make a point to get up frequently to get water out of the water fountain in the hall or from the bottle filling station in the basement of a building across campus, or I would walk across the quad to a different building to use the bathroom. These activities got me moving a little bit but weren’t “productive” (that word is fraught) in that they took me away from my office – so they were differently productive, let’s say, because I was moving, which was the goal for the moment, and besides whenever I leave the building I usually run into someone along the way and those conversations often lead to new projects, ideas, questions, or maybe just better collegiality, so not un-productive.

But now I treat myself with sitting, and the key here is that I sit away from the computer. And when I decide to sit down, I have to think about what I want to do while I am sitting. Because I have been standing I am usually excited just about the possibility of sitting, which infuses whatever I’m doing with that same excitement – whatever book or article I choose to read when I sit, or message I sketch out in long hand, or lists I make or classes I think through or meetings I prep for. If I’m not teaching, I sit more in the afternoons. I make tea, I sit awhile, and I engage with whatever I am doing in a way that I wasn’t before when my afternoon slump hit and my proverbial rainbow wheel started spinning and I almost unconsciously, robotically reached for the mouse and clicked on Sporcle or Facebook. The Burning Question: What has happened since the last time I checked fifteen minutes ago? The Eternal Answer: Absolutely nothing. It’s shocking how frequently an entire afternoon will pass and I won’t have checked my personal email or been on Facebook once. It’s fantastic. And I’m reading more, which also feels great.

Do I have more energy? I don’t know. Do I, in general, feel better? Yes. But again, it may be just in my head – and I no longer think that’s a bad thing. 

Finished reading Jill Bialosky’s History of a Suicide: My Sister’s Unfinished Life and Matthew Sanford’s Waking: A Memoir of Trauma and Transcendence. 

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