Thanks to YouTube, MySpace and other social sites we’re at our computers more than ever. Throw in computer games, eBay and of course work and you could spend more time in front of a PC than you do sleeping.
I write for a living, so my ability to use my computer comfortably is extremely important to me. Yet because I travel a bit for business I do tend to type away on a laptop while hunched over a folding tray on an airplane or an awkward hotel desk.
When I’m at my home office, where I do the bulk of my work, I demand absolute comfort. I should add that I spend a lot of time on collectibles forums, eBay, and I also play a fair share of PC games—the latter because gaming is part of my beat as a journalist. And whether for work or play I take the ergonomics of my PC set up very seriously. More so because last summer I managed to break my wrist when I fell off my bike, and during my recovery I found that using a computer doesn’t help with the pain. I should add that I injured my knee the same week running, but I could work around that pain. With my wrist, however, it was another story.
I already know too many colleagues who suffer from continual wrist pain, often the result of carpal tunnel syndrome or some form of tendinitis. I have other friends who complain of numbness in their fingers from prolonged computer usage. Some of this can be due to poor habits while using a computer for extended periods of time, including slouching at the desk and letting wrists lay limp.
Unfortunately much of the problem is actually related to the office furniture. While a large wooden desk might seem ideal for a modern writer, like “Sex and the City’s” Carrie Bradshaw, in fact I personally find these horrible for using a computer. Old-fashioned writing desks are designed—or more accurately were designed—for writing to be done with pen and paper, thus the surface is rather high for typing, even on a typewriter. I’m about six feet tall and I still feel the need to sit on telephone books if I’m typing away at a traditional “writer’s desk.”
Thus rather than using some traditional wooden office desk, one which would provide character to my home office, I’ve opted to use a Balt Computer Desk for the past decade. It might have all the aesthetic beauty of Tinker Toys, but it is adjustable and customizable to each user. My keyboard tray—something I highly recommend—is positioned specifically for me, as is the accompanying mouse platform.
If a specialized computer desk is out of the question, such as if you have cubicles, there are options to add an adjustable keyboard tray. This is important because typing in an uncomfortable situation for a few hours during a trade show or while traveling won’t kill you, but trying to type in an uncomfortable setup day after day can actually result in injury. So do keep that in mind.