Think about it: when you’re tired, you aren’t doing your best work—and that doesn’t help your overall job performance. When it comes to avoiding fatigue, it’s not just about getting enough sleep, keeping hydrated, and maintaining a nutritious diet—although those are also very important for your health! At best, fatigue is annoying, and at worst can lead to safety issues.
Did you know that your workstation may be contributing to your fatigue? Below are six tips that can help you create a more ergonomic workstation that supports your energy level throughout the day.
- Keep moving: regularly vary your body positioning. Don’t maintain the same posture or position for extended periods of time. Stand up, walk around, or do some light stretches for a few minutes every hour or so. Consider alternating part of the day working while sitting, and part of the day working while standing. If you stand while working, you may want to consider using a non-flat anti-fatigue mat.
Uncaged Ergonomics’ Active Standing Desk Mat features a contoured surface that has been specifically engineered to encourage movement and stretching while standing. This active anti-fatigue mat provides excellent cushioning that you can feel the moment you step on it. The sloped sidewalls let you stretch your calves, elevate one or both feet, and comfortably stand with a wider stance.
- Maintain good head and neck posture. First, check the position of your monitor. Your computer monitor should be positioned directly in front of you, with the center of the screen at eye level. Whether you are sitting or standing when you are working in front of the monitor, your neck and shoulders should be in a relaxed and neutral position. If you use more than one monitor, be sure you can see them easily without having to turn your head.
Use a headset. Or, just hold the phone instead of squeezing the phone handset between your neck and shoulder. You’ve probably noticed holding a phone handset in this position becomes uncomfortable very quickly. Over time, this position can cause a variety of neck and shoulder problems.
- Combat eye strain. Remember to rest your eyes. Be sure to blink regularly! Close your eyes periodically to help avoid eye strain. A popular tip is the 20-20-20 rule. It suggests that every 20 minutes, you take a 20-second break from looking at your monitor. During the break, look at something that’s 20 feet away from you to vary your focus.
You might also want to consider changing your computer’s settings. The color scheme you’ve selected may be pretty to look at, but it may not be doing your eyes any favors. If you don’t have enough contrast, your eyes may be working harder than they need to. You might also consider reducing the brightness of your monitor.
You’ll also want to light the space appropriately. Lighting that’s too dim or too bright can cause eyestrain can lead to blurred vision, headaches, and neck pain. And the color of lighting can make a difference in your energy levels as well. Lights with yellowish tones are easier on the eyes than the bluer tones of many traditional fluorescents.
- Be aware of your overall posture. Don’t slouch. If you’re sitting, make sure your hips are positioned as far back as they can go in your chair. The back of your chair should support your upper and lower back, so sit in a position that lets the chair guide your posture. Your head, neck, and shoulders should be relaxed; your elbows should remain close to your body. Your forearms, wrists, and hands should be in a straight line and be approximately parallel to the floor.
- Position your chair properly. When sitting while working, scoot in. Don’t sit too far away from your keyboard and
mouse. If you have to stretch your arms out to reach your mouse and keyboard, you’ll tire more easily. Position your keyboard and mouse at a distance where you can keep your elbows bent in a neutral position.
Also, adjust your chair for your height. Your feet should comfortably rest on the floor when you are sitting; your knees should be at or just below hip level. If your seating position is too low or too high, raise or lower the chair—or get a footrest.
- Keep your arms close. If you don’t have an ergonomic workstation, you may be too far away from your keyboard and mouse. When you have to stretch your arms out to type, the muscles in your neck, shoulders, arms, elbows, wrists, and hands can suffer. You can reduce fatigue in these areas by ensuring your typing posture keeps your elbows bent at a 90-degree angle, and the weight of your arms is supported. You can buy ergonomic products online that can help reduce this kind of muscle strain, like ergonomic office chairs with armrests, or under-desk keyboard trays that put your keyboard in the best location.
No matter whether you sit or stand while working, these tips will help improve your workplace ergonomics. The benefits of your ergonomically improved workstation will help you work more comfortably and keep you at your healthy best. Over time, your body will thank you.