My post on Facebook yesterday was the truth: “Went to Staples for a glue stick this afternoon… and came home with a new office chair (… and yes, I remembered the glue stick, too.)”
There was this unfortunate combination of things – sore shoulders and a “$100 off” price sticker – that sidetracked me in the centre aisle. I was on my way to the cashier, honestly, I was, but…. With the glue stick clutched in my hand, I gingerly settled into a black leather chair and was still there when my hubby came looking for me.
I have a perfectly acceptable computer chair, one that’s comfortable by everyone’s standards but mine. It just doesn’t fit my backside. I know the fault is mine – my backside is generous, to say the least – but the coaxing voice in my head told me I was still entitled to some comfort as I work at creating my fictional worlds.
So yes, I now have a new and very comfy chair in my office. (And where am I currently sitting with my laptop? Um, I don’t think I’ll answer that completely irrelevant question.)
The point is, ergonomics is an important consideration for writers. The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety defines ergonomics as “a process of matching furniture (including tools, workstation, equipment, and environment) to the workers and their work tasks to reduce the hazards for injury and discomfort without undermining productivity.”
There’s nothing wrong with using a pad of paper or laptop balanced on our knees to write as we’re propped up in bed, but as a continuous practice over the long term our backs, necks and productivity are bound to suffer. I know most of us aren’t going to spend big bucks on equipping our writing spaces – at least, not until we’ve signed a publishing contract that will offer us a little expendable income – but it’s not a bad thing to keep sound ergonomic criteria in mind if we happen to run across a particularly good sale.
The ideal list:
- a workspace designed to minimize distractions (including comfort, noise and temperature)
- good lighting (a mixture of direct lighting (60%) and indirect lighting (40%), plus desktop task lighting in a 20:1 ratio with the surrounding light)
- windows with glare control (adjustable blinds or shades)
- a fully adjustable chair with height-adjustable armrests (and the knowledge of how to set it for our needs)
- an adjustable desk, or one of an appropriate height for us (Dr. David Brandenburg, a UCLA certified ergonomist, says, “The standard 29 to 30 inch desk is way too high for women.”)
- a foot rest
- convenient accessories such as a copyholder, plus, if we use one, a computer placed at the correct height and distance, and a mouse that fits our hands and doesn’t require a stretch to reach
If you had your “druthers” (and no cost restrictions), what would be your first move towards a more ergonomic-friendly writing environment?
Cartoon used with permission from Debbie Ridpath Ohi at Inkygirl.com
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