One of my biggest fears on becoming an engineer was the physical toll. In the past, I’ve had pinched nerves and back pain, so I knew I’d need to take special care of my body.
Every day, more products are available to help computer users work more comfortably. Some of my go-to products (and none of these are sponsoring me, btw):
I’ve been using this Ergotron standing work station for 12 months now, at two different jobs. The best thing about it is that it adjusts up and down, allowing me to stand for 2-3 hours per work day and sit for the rest. Since I started using this, my back pain has gone down by ~70%.
My biggest challenge with it has been attaching the monitor — not all monitors are compatible. One of my Dell monitors had the mounting hardware built in, so it was a breeze to install (albeit a 2-person job). My iMac needed an adapter, which I realized halfway through setup. Luckily, Ergotron has a great compatibility site where you can find out which monitors work with which standing desk models.
Here’s a picture of the stand at its tallest (top of the monitor is probably around 6’0). I adjust it down to be in front of my eyes when standing.
Dry eyes: Flax seed
Two years ago, I went to the eye doctor with tired, dry eyes. I had stopped reading for pleasure — a big step for me — and stopped watching TV, but my eyes still stung. My doctor recommended flax seed. I’ve noticed a big difference in my eyes since I’ve started using it. In fact, if I forget to put flax-seed on my cereal for more than two days, I feel the difference.
In addition, I lower the brightness level of my computer screen and use large fonts.
Wrist and arm alignment: Vertical mouse
In 2007 I had a painful pinched nerve that was diagnosed as tendonitis. I was in agony. This vertical mouse was a life saver. Without it, I would have had to quit my job. I have tried many products over the years (traditional mouse, optical mouse, diagonal mouse, rollerball mouse, joystick mouse, trackpad), but for me, this one stands out as a winner for pain-free computing. The one drawback of this is that you can’t switch hands.