Six weeks with a standing desk (and why they’re overhyped)

395790_3700.jpgI’m always on the lookout for lifehacks that are easily implemented and offer big boosts in productivity. So when I saw a bunch of articles about the alleged health benefits of ditching your chair for a standing desk, I was intrigued. I filed it away as something to try, but I didn’t quite have the motivation to put together my own setup.

But in November we went to visit some family for Thanksgiving and I spent a few days working while standing up at a breakfast bar. And surprise, surprise: it was amazing! Standing up to work gives me an energy and urgency that I just don’t get when I’m sitting down. I did it for three days and was completely convinced at the end.

Once home, I gathered all the materials necessary to setup my own temporary standing desk. I wanted to at least try it for a month or two before investing in an expensive desk and getting rid of my old un-enlightened sitting desk.

That first week with the standing desk was amazing. I felt more productive, more present, more purposeful. I know that sounds stupid for such a minor change, but isn’t that what great lifehacks are all about? All was right with the world and I was zooming.

But after about two weeks, something began to shift. My heels began to hurt like crazy, especially in the morning. A Google search revealed that I might have the beginnings of plantar fasciitis, a nasty-sounding condition. Since Christmas was coming up and we were traveling around, I was able to stay off my feet for most of the next couple weeks, so that helped the pain dissipate.

So for the last couple weeks, I’ve been continuing to stand, but there’s just something not quite right. I’m no longer in pain per-se, but it’s just not comfortable anymore. It’s hard to focus and concentrate, because I just want to sit down. I find myself constantly leaning forward to take some of the weight off my feet, and spending large parts of the day working at Starbucks, “just to get out of the house”. I think it’s more a subconscious excuse to sit down.

Yesterday I finally caved and moved my whole setup back to my normal desk. I’m pretty happy about it. Ultimately, I love the idea of standing, but only part of the time. I think I would want to stand for more like 30-40%. Definitely not 100%. The more I think about it, the more I wonder if it’s really healthy to be standing in one place all day like that.

My next step is to get a motorized adjustable desk so I can sit and stand without having to shift my computer, monitor, and keyboard around. Most of the adjustable desks are really expensive, but GeekDesk sells some more affordable ones that look like they’d be a great fit for my needs. Still not cheap, but with the amount of time I spend at my desk, it’s worth it to me to invest in good stuff.

I’m wondering if I’m alone: have you successfully done the standing desk thing for more than a month or two? Any pain or other issues? Am I doing something wrong? Some of my friends who have tried standing desks eventually just got a stool, which admittedly does seem like a cheaper solution than a motorized desk. Let me know what’s worked for you.