10 Signs Your Desk Sucks

Your desk just might be making you sick, tired, and unproductive, and chances are you don’t even know about it. Things that you’ve written off as part of office life, like feeling tired and having a backache, are not normal, and they’re a sure sign that something is wrong ergonomically. Read on to find out if your desk sucks, and see what you can do to make it better “” and potentially avoid a visit to your nurse or doctor.

  1. You just don’t feel productive:

    Even in the most ergonomic of spaces, you can feel like your productivity is being sucked out of you. Stacks of papers, old drinks, crumbs from lunch, and other small messes can add up to a workplace that just feels draining. Kill the clutter, cleaning up your desk every afternoon before you leave, and wipe it down at least once a week. Clear off your desktop by filing your papers and even finding a drawer or small bin for your inbox. Find a place for every piece of paper on your desk.

  2. You often find yourself squinting and leaning forward:

    If you sit too far away from your monitor, you may need to lean forward or squint to see what you’re working on clearly. This can lead to back or neck tension and pain, even causing headaches and soreness. Fix this problem by self-assessing to see if you’re maintaining a comfortable viewing distance.

  3. You have carpal tunnel syndrome:

    Do you feel numbness, tingling, or weakness in your wrists? You probably have carpal tunnel syndrome, caused by pressure on the median nerve. Using a contoured or curved keyboard can help to reduce pressure in your hands, wrists, and shoulders. Wrist pads are also helpful for supporting your arms and reducing strain during typing breaks.

  4. You feel back, neck, and shoulder pain:

    Sitting in a position with bad posture for an extended period of time can lead to serious pain. You can grow tired more quickly, develop pinched nerves, constrict blood vessels, and develop spinal problems. Slouching in your chair is a major contributor to bad posture at work. Adjust your desk chair so that you can sit without slouching forward or hunching over. Keep your back against your chair with your feet flat on the floor and knees even with your hips. Do this and you’ll see fewer doctors in the long run “” and perhaps you won’t have to bother with professional podiatrists at all.

  5. You have eye strain and headaches:

    Glare is a major problem in many workplaces. If you can see windows or light in your screen, it’s harder for you to see what you’re looking at. Similarly, if you’re sitting too far or too close to your monitor, your eyes can become overtired. This can cause severe eye strain, and for some, headaches. You can fix this problem by ensuring that you’re sitting a proper distance from your monitor, adjusting the angle to avoid light sources, and investing in a glare-free screen. You should also take regular breaks for your eyes, looking away from the screen for at least 20 seconds every 20 minutes.

  6. You get sick, all the time:

    Here’s a hard truth: your desk is totally gross. It’s covered in germs not just from you, but from your coworkers, packages, and other goodies floating around in your office air. You spend all day in this filth, putting your hands on your keyboard, your phone on your face, and if you eat your lunch at your desk, you put it right in your mouth. It’s not hard to imagine how this can make you sick, especially during cold and flu season. A clean desk is your best defense against workplace germs. Keep clutter off of your desk so that you can wipe it down regularly, at least once a week. Don’t forget to clean your mouse, keyboard, phone, and other frequently used tools.

  7. Your back is killing you:

    Sitting in your office chair for an extended period of time can be very harmful for your back, especially if your desk has poor ergonomics. Poor back support, bad posture, and slouching can lead to overstretched spinal ligaments, strain, and pressure on your back muscles. An ergonomic office chair and desk can really help you here. Establishing the correct height, distance, and position can help to make you more comfortable and reduce strain. Remember to get up frequently, engaging in at least minimal movement or stretching each hour.

  8. You’re fat:

    Sitting at work all day isn’t exactly a key part of a healthy lifestyle. Research from the British Journal of Sports Medicine has found that even if you exercise for 30 to 60 minutes each day, spending the majority of your time sitting (like you would in an office) still puts you at risk for major health problems and multiple visits to your nurse or doctor. These include diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and even death. Sitting in a standard office chair relaxes your muscles and enzyme activity, allowing fatty deposits to run free in your bloodstream. And obviously, sitting inactively means that you’re not burning the same calories as you would if you were able to stand or walk. This sedentary lifestyle, paired with typical office stress, can really make you fat. Consider using a standing desk, turning a balance ball into your chair, or just getting up regularly for a lap around the office to jump start your energy and metabolism.

  9. You have trouble concentrating:

    Some people find it difficult to concentrate while sitting at a desk, instead preferring to pace, walk, or even go for a bike ride to really get their thoughts flowing. Obviously, in an office setting, this isn’t an option for everyone, but you can take steps to free your mind from your desk. It’s possible to stay active in the office. Some people have found success by installing a treadmill desk. Others bring a mini trampoline into the office. If your office has a gym, obviously, take advantage of it. But if these aren’t an option, you can walk around the office, speaking in person with your coworkers instead of sending an email. Pacing in your office is also a great idea, anything you can do to take regular movement breaks. If you find yourself getting stuck and having difficulty concentrating, consider how you can get up and get moving to better engage your brain.

  10. You’ve developed varicose veins:

    Varicose veins often develop due to hereditary issues, pregnancy, and even congenital problems, but standing or sitting for a long time (like in your office chair) can exacerbate these problems. As you sit with very little blood flow to your legs, it pools and can cause the development of unsightly and sometimes painful varicose veins. Again, getting exercise at work is a great way to help avoid this problem. Getting up for regular exercise breaks helps get your blood moving. Additionally, sitting on an exercise ball at your desk can help, as can a forward sloping chair.

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