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Setting Up An Ergonomically Correct Workstation

A desk by any other name does not necessarily smell as sweet (although I’m not 100% sure what a desk is supposed to smell like!) There are certain workstation arrangements that encourage productivity and comfort — others that just leave you frustrated at the end of the day. How does yours measure up?

Adjusting Your Computer

Checkmark-Iconadjust your monitor to the correct eye level to keep your neck level

Xmark-Iconplace your computer on top of a shelf or CPU if its too low — avoid holding your neck bent down

Checkmark-Iconremove the swivel base if your is too high — avoid holding your neck bent up

Xmark-Iconadjust your monitor angle so your documents are being viewed straight on

Checkmark-Icona “sit-stand” workstation will encourage movement throughout day

Choosing The Right Chair

Xmark-Iconuse a cushion to support your lower back

Checkmark-Iconadjust the height and tilt of your chair for a comfortable position

Xmark-Iconrecline your chair slightly to stay sitting against the back rest

Checkmark-Iconlower your armrests to reduce arm and shoulder tension

Xmark-Iconuse a swivel chair to avoid twisting your body or head

Checkmark-Iconadjust your seating so your feet are flat on the floor

Xmark-Iconyour thighs should be parallel to the floor

Checkmark-Iconget a chair that encourages a broader range of motion

Xmark-Iconuse a footrest if you can’t comfortably reach the floor at the right chair height

Cutting Down On Screen Glare

Checkmark-Iconshade your monitor from direct light sources with a glare screen

Xmark-Iconcover or shield light sources to prevent glare

Checkmark-Iconface your monitor away from windows and direct lights

Xmark-Iconlight should hit the screen from the side at an angle — not straight on

Checkmark-Iconlowering light levels to 200-500 lux can also reduce screen glare

How You Hold Your Hands And Wrists

Xmark-Iconlower your work surface to keep your hands below your elbows

Checkmark-Iconalternate hands when using a mouse for long periods

Xmark-Iconuse an electric stapler or hole punch when handling many documents

Checkmark-Iconuse a keyboard tray to keep your wrists flat

Xmark-Icona split keyboard design keeps wrists from turning outward

Checkmark-Iconchange the slope of your keyboard to keep your wrists flat

Xmark-Iconkeep your mouse and keyboard as close to the body as possible

Checkmark-Iconuse a sharpened letter opener when dealing with a lot of mail

Xmark-Icona light touch keyboard will prevent “pounding” the keys

Checkmark-Iconuse a padded hand and arm rest for hard or sharp surfaces

Xmark-Iconget in the habit of putting your hands down to rest when not typing

Checkmark-Iconprovide arm support while using a mouse

Improving Range Of Motion

Xmark-Icontake regular breaks to move around throughout the day

Checkmark-Iconvary your activities instead of doing the same thing all day

Xmark-Icontake more frequent breaks when focusing on one activity

Checkmark-Icontry rolling or sliding a load rather than lifting

Xmark-Iconif you lift, try to reduce the sides of your loads

Checkmark-Iconkeep items near your body as you lift to reduce back strain

Xmark-Iconkeep items at a medium height as you carry them

Checkmark-Iconpay attention to your body — aches and pains aren’t normal

Preventing Eyestrain

Xmark-Iconadjust the pixel size on your screen if the image is too small

Checkmark-Iconadjust your contrast and brightness if the image is too dim

Xmark-Iconmay need to upgrade your monitor if the image is fuzzy or flickering

Checkmark-Iconraise light sources to keep them out of your eye

Xmark-Iconmove your monitor back to 16+ inches away if you are straining your eyes

Checkmark-Iconuse “computer glasses” to reduce eyestrain

Xmark-Iconset a timer to remember to look away from the screen

Checkmark-Iconarrange your desk to provide a “view” for resting your eyes

Setting Up Your Workstation

Xmark-Iconlower your work surface to reduce arm and shoulder tension

Checkmark-Iconan “L” or “U” shaped workstation is most efficient

Xmark-Icongive yourself adequate knee space for ease of movement

Checkmark-Iconuse a headset or speakerphone to avoid hunching your shoulders

Xmark-Iconlower your work surface if your feet are dangling or you feel pressure on the backs of your thighs

Checkmark-Iconrealign your work station to avoid twisting your head or body

Xmark-Iconrearrange your work area to reduce excessive reaching and bending

Checkmark-Iconavoid cluttering your work space with too many personal items

Xmark-Iconregularly used supplies should be within arm’s reach

Checkmark-Iconstore your equipment — phone, computer, etc. — on one “wing”

Xmark-Iconleave the another wing free to spread out while you work

Smart Supply Storage

Checkmark-Icontry not to hoard supplies at your desk

Xmark-Iconkeep only as much as you need right now at your workstation

Checkmark-Iconcreate a separate supply area for storing bulk amounts

Xmark-Iconstore extras in labeled containers and group like items together — pens, clips, notepads, etc.

Checkmark-Iconstore flat items (paper, sheet protectors, folders) in stacking trays

Xmark-Iconuse drawer dividers to keep small items in order

Checkmark-Iconstore envelopes and note cards in a small vertical rack

Xmark-Iconset up bracket shelves above your desk for additional storage

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Copyright 2009

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Ramona Creel is an award-winning 15-year veteran organizer and member of the National Association Of Professional Organizers. As well as having birthed “The A-To-Z Of Getting Organized,” Ramona is also the author of “The Professional Organizer’s Bible: A Slightly Irreverent And Completely Unorthodox Guide For Turning Clutter Into A Career”—and the creator of more than 200 “quick-start” business tools and templates for use by productivity professionals. She writes seven different blogs, has worked with hundreds of clients, and has delivered scores of presentations on getting organized. Ramona resides on the roads of America as a full-time RVer—living and working in a 29-foot Airstream. Learn more at and

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One Response

  1. Ergonomic Footrests says:

    I spend my days sitting at some drafting tables inside an office and it seems so unhealthy to never be outside. I recently starting getting up every 30 minutes and doing a walk around the office just to be active. It truly does pay off. Great post by the way. Great to see people on the same page!
    Thanks for post..

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