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Do you have an awesome work area?

Alvin Parker
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 01, 2013
Posts: 38
I am looking for ideas on the greatest office configuration I can get.

Despite hard workouts and a comfy bed, my back hurts all the time due to sitting behind my desk writing software for long stretches. If you have solved a similar problem, I'd love to know what you went with. I'm considering standing and ergonomic sitting configurations right now but am at a loss and all the solutions I find are general ones. I'm curious what programmers have found that worked to allow them to work for long stretches and to take care of their bodies as well.

Cheers and thanks for your input!
Bear Bibeault
Author and ninkuma
Marshal

Joined: Jan 10, 2002
Posts: 61106
    
  66

Don't work for long stretches without moving. Get up every now and again and walk around. Make sure you have a good chair, and that you sit in it correctly.


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Maneesh Godbole
Saloon Keeper

Joined: Jul 26, 2007
Posts: 10274
    
    8

awesome work area

No such thing.


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Saif Asif
Ranch Hand

Joined: Aug 11, 2011
Posts: 440

Well I also have a slight back problem and if I sit for long hours, my back starts to pain real bad. To solve this , I get up from time to time ( of-course not frequently ) to like for example get a glass of water from the other floor. Even though we have a perfectly working water dispenser on my floor but I feel that climbing the stairs just one floor would be a good break and an exercise from the long sitting. I also bought a back-care cushion and its always on my seat. It helps keep the back straight and ever since I have started using it, my back pain problems have really decreased.


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J. Kevin Robbins
Bartender

Joined: Dec 16, 2010
Posts: 920
    
  13

I rarely sit for more than an hour at a time. I get up and walk around a bit, stretch, and look out the window to focus on something distant and give my eyes a break.

I also purchased a nice foam cushion for my chair and watch my posture. I have arthritis in my back from a severe fracture a couple of years ago, so back pain is a constant companion to me.


"The good news about computers is that they do what you tell them to do. The bad news is that they do what you tell them to do." -- Ted Nelson
Tim Cooke
Bartender

Joined: Mar 28, 2008
Posts: 971
    
  47

1) All good advice so far

2) A neat tip for making sure you take regular breaks is to keep a bottle of water at your desk. If you're anything like me then you'll be forced to take regular trips to the bathroom throughout the day.


Tim Driven Development
Campbell Ritchie
Sheriff

Joined: Oct 13, 2005
Posts: 38519
    
  23
Welcome to the Ranch

Better than water: coffee. Not only will you need to get up frequently, but you can get additional exercise by walking on the ceiling
fred rosenberger
lowercase baba
Bartender

Joined: Oct 02, 2003
Posts: 11257
    
  16

There is also the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, stare at something at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.

This helps prevent eyestrain.


There are only two hard things in computer science: cache invalidation, naming things, and off-by-one errors
Campbell Ritchie
Sheriff

Joined: Oct 13, 2005
Posts: 38519
    
  23
fred rosenberger wrote:There is also the 20-20-20 rule. . . .
Isn't it,
“Every twenty minutes, throw something weighing twenty pounds at somebody sitting more than twenty feet away from you”?
Jack Allen
Greenhorn

Joined: Oct 02, 2013
Posts: 2
I've had a back operation to repair a bulging disk. I can't sit comfortably for any length of time. I use a stand-up workstation at work. For home, I bought a smooth slab door, coated it with polyurethane and mounted it to the wall of the man-cave with 2 large shelf supports. Neither workstation is pretty, but I can work all day at either of them with no back pain or stiffness - and that is awesome! Bonus, I lost 5 pounds after I started working standing up.
Campbell Ritchie
Sheriff

Joined: Oct 13, 2005
Posts: 38519
    
  23
Welcome to the Ranch
So that is how you prevent programming being a sedentary job?
Jack Allen
Greenhorn

Joined: Oct 02, 2013
Posts: 2
The only way I know of ! :-)
chris webster
Bartender

Joined: Mar 01, 2009
Posts: 1671
    
  14

Do all the things people have mentioned, such as getting up and moving around regularly etc. Also look at your seating and posture - maybe your company has some advice/policies on this, or check around online for tips to make sure you are adjusting your office chair correctly, sitting properly, and setting your screen height correctly. Just having your keyboard and screen in the right position can make a big difference. It may be that you need a better chair - consider buying one yourself if your company refuses to give you a decent chair. It's your back, and it's got to last you a long time, so it's worth protecting it.

Finally, I used to have a lot of back pain from office work, but then I took some T'ai Chi lessons and found it made a real difference. Maybe it helped change my posture, or maybe it simply meant I was more relaxed while sitting at my desk, but it certainly killed off the back pain. Plus it's great for your mental health and relaxation anyway.


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J. Kevin Robbins
Bartender

Joined: Dec 16, 2010
Posts: 920
    
  13

My sister has one of these and swears that it's done wonders for her back troubles.
Paul Anilprem
Enthuware Software Support
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 23, 2000
Posts: 3287
    
    7
I get severe back pain if sit on any chair without lumbar support for even 5 minutes. But I need support at a very precise location. If I put any kind of support at that point, even a tiny bit, I have no problem at all and I can sit continuously for whole day. In absense of any pillow or cushion, I can put a thick book or roll up my jacket to apply support at that point. Works like a charm. It has been like that for at least past 10 yrs.

So what I mean is, sometimes the problem area is very small and you have to identify exactly what works for you. You have to go with trial and error.

This Inflatable Back Cushion has helped me tremendously. I never go without it anywhere. I have one in my office, one at home, and one in car. I even take it on the plane and have absolutely no problem even on 10 hr long flights.

I also have pain in my wrist when I use mouse with right hand for more than 10 mins. I never used mouse in college and when I started my first job, I got pain from the second day itself. I immediately switched the mouse to left hand. I have been using a right handed mouse with left hand ever since. No issues at all. So again, the point is you need to figure out what works for you.

HTH,
Paul.


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Alvin Parker
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 01, 2013
Posts: 38
Thanks for the replies everyone. It seems that most solve this by moving around. I work from home as a hired gun and certainly I do get engrossed in my work and wind up sitting sometimes for longer than I like. But I usually move around a lot too. I am constantly drinking something. And, five times a week I do really hard workouts - like 300 perfect pushup burpies or an hour of HIIT or run around my park and do 220 jumps on benches and 220 pushups with my feet suspended (40 of each for the bench station I'm at). I think I'm in great shape. But despite my best efforts to move, my back (lumbar) starts hurting by the end of my day or sooner and often continues to hurt even when I'm done working.

I tried the Swiss ball before. It is okay and probably an improvement. I think the standing workstation is a great idea. Do you also have a standing chair you can lean on or do you just stand and work all day?

It seems that since we are programmers, a huge part of how effective we can be is due to how sharp our minds are and being interrupted by back pain makes me less effective. Perhaps my workstation is the cause of some numbers of bugs and is certainly a cause of getting out of the zone. It seems like a company could do pretty well making niche workstations for programmers. We should start an open source project.

Thanks for the welcome to the ranch!
Steve Luke
Bartender

Joined: Jan 28, 2003
Posts: 4181
    
  21

I have a standing desk. I moved to one in February, for similar reasons: I had back pain and felt I needed to keep moving. The standup desk keeps me moving all day long - shifting from foot to foot, pacing the room. I barely sit anymore. The key is to get a nice ergonomic mat to stand on.

I like my standing desk so much at work, I turned my desk at home into one in June. This one I paid for. It is an adapter you put on top of a normal desk that holds 2 monitors and a keyboard and mouse. It has a counterweight and handle that lets you adjust the height and move it to a sitting position if you want. Love it.

2 months ago I bought a treadmill and put it under the desk at home. I have added hours of walking to my daily routine I face the TV so I can walk while working or watching TV - adds to about 2.5 to 3 hours of walking on normal weekdays, more on weekends. The key with this is to get a walking treadmill, something that goes down pretty slow (~ 1 mph is pretty comfortable).


Steve
Paul Clapham
Bartender

Joined: Oct 14, 2005
Posts: 18541
    
    8

It isn't only programmers who have problems which arise from sedentary jobs. It's office workers in general. So if you check out places which supply furniture to offices, you will quite likely find a lot of potential solutions.
Chan Ag
Bartender

Joined: Sep 06, 2012
Posts: 1013
    
  15
I take frequent breaks. I hope my future employer is not reading this post; but without breaks, my brain stops working. And yes, I can't stare at my laptop for long hours.

I choose my chair with care and I make sure I have that same chair everyday. I mean my colleagues are often found saying, 'no I don't have your chair'. :-)
It's been a while since I went to work ( have a ligament injury that is healing ) and my next assignment starts on 9th. I hope they'll have nice chairs or I shall ask them to buy one for me. :-)

I don't do the chat. I like to talk instead. I don't like the official messenger.

It's not right to think that I'm not working while I'm on a break. You don't need to be at your desk to think. So even if my future employer is reading this, they'd know that a 'break' is sort of a 'misleading term' here. :-)
Jayesh A Lalwani
Bartender

Joined: Jan 17, 2008
Posts: 2347
    
  28

Alvin Parker wrote:And, five times a week I do really hard workouts - like 300 perfect pushup burpies or an hour of HIIT or run around my park and do 220 jumps on benches and 220 pushups with my feet suspended (40 of each for the bench station I'm at).


A lot of people who have a lot of mass in their upper body get back problems. This is why I like to keep most off my mass right around the middle. Lowers the center of gravity and prevents back problems

Maybe you should try to lower your center of gravity too
Campbell Ritchie
Sheriff

Joined: Oct 13, 2005
Posts: 38519
    
  23
Are you sure you are not simply swapping them for belt problems?
Jim Venolia
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 07, 2013
Posts: 154
    
    2

Yeah, I know I'm reviving a topic that has been dead for 2 months.

I work in CD/podcast units of time. When I'm working my headphones are on. When the CD or podcast ends I get up and do something. Of course, in the morning I take a lot more breaks. I polish off a cup of coffee every 20 minutes or so, and after 2 hours I also have to drain the lizard every 20 minutes or so.

/ At the end of a work unit if you ask what I just listened to, 90% of the time I couldn't tell you
// Learned programming in a noisy work environment, had the habit ever since
/// why am I the only person on these forums who likes slashies?
//// coverville.com is an awesome podcast, Brian knows me as snotnose


It's a no-brainer. We just need to take it to the next level to turn this into a win-win situation. The best practice is to get rid of the low-hanging fruit first. Ping me with an agenda so we can go flag up on this thing
Bill Clar
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 21, 2006
Posts: 150

J. Kevin Robbins wrote:My sister has one of these and swears that it's done wonders for her back troubles.


I use one at home and it's great.

Another trick is to avoid the backrest of your chair. Don't use it. This will force you to sit up straight and maintain good posture.
Winston Gutkowski
Bartender

Joined: Mar 17, 2011
Posts: 7718
    
  20

Alvin Parker wrote:I work from home as a hired gun and certainly I do get engrossed in my work and wind up sitting sometimes for longer than I like...

The only thing I can think of that hasn't been mentioned is a "prayer stool". They're very odd-looking, basically a base-plate with a seat sloped at about 45 degrees from back to front, and you wonder at first how you're going to use it, but the basic idea is that you kneel comfortably. A friend of mine that had back problems suggested one when I had (temporary, as it turned out) troubles of my own.

Only other suggestion: A good friend and a mallet. You're obviously far too tall.

Winston

Isn't it funny how there's always time and money enough to do it WRONG?
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