Tips & Tricks

All the ergonomic furniture in the world won't help you if you don't take a few simple steps to make your life a little more pleasant. These tips are all common sense, but it's amazing how easy they are to forget when you're racking up your third hour installing Vampires on Facebook. Here are some top tips that, should you follow them, will greatly increase your computer-centric health.

*Take screen breaks. For every hour spent sat, staring at a computer screen guidelines suggest you should take 5-10 minutes resting, and this means avoiding marathon videogaming sessions as much as it means avoiding endless spreadsheet tweaking.

*Of course, in a work environment, most managers won't be desperately happy about you taking 10 minutes off every hour, so learn to break up your screen time by doing different tasks - make any phone calls you need to, reply to post or work on documents that have been printed out.

*Make sure you vary your focus occasionally. To prevent your eyes just becoming overly used to the relatively short range computer screen, glance up every 10 minutes and just focus on something, or someone in the distance. This will give your eyes just a miniature break that will allow them to feel a little more refreshed when you turn back to the Word document from hell.

*Shrug and roll, baby. When typing for extended periods of time, much of the tension your body accumulates will be stored in you shoulders. Simply spending a couple of minutes raising and dropping your shoulders with a little gusto can release some of that tension, allowing you to feel far more relaxed as you sit. Rolling your shoulders can also help - you might have to endure sniggers from your compatriots, but it'll be worth it.

*If you spend a lot of time on your phone, invest in a headset. Although bluetooth earpieces have quickly become a cultured cliche of the self-important pillock, using one at work can have a massive benefit if it avoids you keeping a phone cradled in the crook of your neck for hours at a time. Bluetooth headsets also issue far less radiation than the phone itself, which you can keep on your desk.

*If you work on a laptop regularly, invest in an external keyboard, mouse and monitor setup. Laptops aren't really ergonomically designed for long-term working, with the screen itself positioned too low - encouraging a severely hunched posture. Most modern notebooks allow the connection to an external monitor, so get one and follow the setup guidelines for monitors and keyboards above to maximise the ergonomics.

*Drink regularly. We don't mean the regular influx of coffee that many computer fanatics live on (who? me? - ed.) , we mean real, honest to goodness water.

*Chances are that if you're sat at a desk you're consuming food for at least part of the day sat there, and many desk-based environments aren't conducive to healthy eating - so downing plenty of water will keep toxins on the move. At the very least, drinking water regularly will ensure that you take regular screen breaks!

Image courtesy of HumanScale

So ergonomics is a far more complicated process than simply buying an Aeron chair and being done with it (although that's a good start). We've barely scratched the surface of best practice here, and we heartily recommend that you check out the following hand-picked links if you're keen to delve a little deeper:

HumanScale
Humanics
TCO
Canadian Centre For Occupational Health & Safety
National Library of Medicine

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