Make your Desk Work for You

Desk of a writer, student or freelancer is a sanctuary. Where would you be without it? It’s your port of call in a storm of deadlines. But before I get sentimental, just what makes the perfect workstation?

A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world.
John le Carre

Science Daily says that the modern person spends and average of 5 hours 41 minutes at their desk every day. As a student and writer, I know I’m chained to my desk for much longer. Believe it or not, you can strain yourself while sitting down. Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) is often caused by typing too much, using a mouse for long periods, but is also found in the arms, wrists, hands, shoulders and neck. Looking up at a screen, looking down at a screen can also cause discomfort. If you are long-limbed or not of average height, think about a booster cushion for your chair, a computer stand, and wearing a scarf.

Happiness is a very small desk and a very big waste-basket.
Robert Orben

A scarf? One day, they may join the suits and ties in the office. They help keep your muscles warm around your neck, and are a reminder of and discomfort. I often wear a scarf, even in summer, as I suffer from Upper Cross Syndrome, sometimes called ‘Student Syndrome’. It weakens your neck and shoulder muscles while the back of your head and pectorals will be tighter. This will make you slouch and cause pain, spasms, and pinched nerves. Take breaks, stand up and move before this develops (it’s also a great excuse to make a cuppa.) It pays to pay attention to your posture.

Adjustable furniture is rare, so make sure to try before you buy. Are you having to reach for your keyboard, do you have plenty of space for your legs and arms? There’s plenty to think about.

The writer has to force himself to work. He has to make his own hours and if he doesn’t go to his desk at all there is nobody to scold him.
-Roald Dahl

Once you have a suitable desk, the next thing think about is where to put it. Think about light. Is there glare on the screen? Is it too bright or too dark to read? Where are the windows? Where does the sunshine fall, and at what moments during the day? Make the most of natural light. If you can, place your desk beside a window. Hopefully the view wont be so distracting, but you won’t have your backlit screen famed in a bright light. After these considerations go for good over head lighting, and a desk lamp which focuses on what you are working on rather than lighting your room.

I have my favourite cat, who is my paperweight, on my desk while I am writing.
-Ray Bradbury

While clutter and chaos is said to be the sign of a creative mind, it can also stop you from creating. If you’ve ever been looking for ‘that’ little bit of paper, then you know what I mean. Unfortunately, there are only two ways to sort this out. One, to throw away all the clutter. Two, to organise it. Both these options involve getting rid of the unnecessary things.

Right now I’m tackling some concentration issues. On my desk right now are several to-do lists, tissues, a few books, my guitar tuner, a necklace, post-it notes, a hairbrush, five pens and a pair of scissors. Every now and then I look away from my screen and let my eyes wander across these items. They are distracting. They remind me of other things I want to read, places to go, and I’m constantly hoping my phone will provide some distraction.

See if you can make your office furniture work for you.


Originally published on Heart Of Glass online.


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