the great standing desk experiment.

I’m on Day Six of the Great Standing Desk Experiment. My back is holding up fine. My legs, particularly my calves, are a bit sore in the evenings, but I can already tell they’ve mostly adjusted to the new setup. I’m now at the point where I want something a little more professional-looking than a coffee table put on top of a regular desk, but everything I can find online is priced like distilled unicorn tears.

I’ve modified the layout a bit. Since I no longer have to be in the dead center of the desk to make my legs fit underneath, I shifted the computer all the way to the left. This frees up a bunch of contiguous space on the right for longhand writing, which is how I usually do my drafts.

Working on my feet all day has been an interesting change. I move around more, shift my weight from leg to leg, and frequently step away from the desk to pace a few steps. It feels more dynamic, for lack of a better word. I’m also more alert, because standing in front of the computer doesn’t lend itself to zoning out. No more Slouchy McSloucherson just mindlessly clicking on stuff because he’s planted and doesn’t have an excuse to get up and move a bit. From an energy and productivity level, it’s been a big gain–I feel less tired, and waste less time.

Now, I won’t lie: the first day or two were a bit rough. It’s not that my body couldn’t take it–it’s like my brain was rebelling at the sudden change in habits and wanting to force me back into the chair. After a few hours on my feet, the desire was strong to just say “screw it” and go back to the old, familiar sitting position. That’s what tripped me up the last time I tried this, but this time I was resolved to just stick with it, for the sake of my lower back.

Now I’m at the point where I want to make the change permanent, but I definitely need a more suitable setup than a $25 coffee table. Yeah, the Amish make some awesome standing desks, but I can’t afford to drop a grand or more on a piece of furniture right now, so something a little more economical will have to do. At least until I sell my SPACE KABLOOIE tetralogy for a hojilion dollar advance, anyway, at which point I’ll build myself a modular standing desk out of gold ingots, with wrist rests made of ermine fur.


19 thoughts on “the great standing desk experiment.

  1. Ryan Adney says:

    In my classroom I stand all day and I enjoy it. The blood is pumping you are getting more oxygen. Humans were made to stand. Great experiment.

  2. Peter says:

    Marko, have you considered a free-standing plastic shelf unit? This one is cheap and readily available:

    You can cut the plastic inter-shelf ‘legs’ to the desired height, to put the top shelf where you want your monitor: and you can put the keyboard either on a lower shelf, at waist height, or mount it on a stand on that lower shelf to bring it to where you want it. You can even make a slide-out wooden shelf for it, or mount a keyboard drawer beneath another shelf, to make it easier. That’ll free up your desk completely, move your computer, printer, etc. onto lower shelves where they’re out of the way, and – best of all – cost very little.

    Hope this helps.

  3. T. Munk says:

    Aww man, you play Horde? 😛

  4. Amy says:

    I’d suggest taking an existing desk of suitable size removing the legs and installing longer ones made of 2x2s or (for better structural integrity) 2x4s. Preparing and attaching them would be quite simple and would cost very little. A bit of paint or stain would unify the look.

  5. Amy says:

    P.S. Imagine there’s a comma between the words “size” and “removing.”

  6. What, no baby sealskin for your armrests?


  7. Fred2 says:

    The alternative to long legs is, if your walls can stand it, is taking a table top, hinging it along the back to 2 plank stubs, Screw the stubs into the wall STRUCTURE * duh*.

    now, using chain ( use heavy chain it looks psychologically better) , to ceiling or to wall , attached about 1/3 of the way back from leading edge and back to structure. I used screw in hooks inthe wall.

    The good news, stuff can be moved off desk and the whole contraption folded down- the bad news is holes in your wall and you NEVER fold it down, do you.

    Also check out IKEA office furniture, I believe they have a desk contraption where the legs can be extended quite a ways upwards.

  8. GregF says:

    Amazon has got some decent ones. You’re still looking at $200-$300 for the decent ones and some of the styles don’t really fit Upper Cryogenica, but hey…. Hope that helps.

  9. Isaiah says:

    Now try doing it barefoot. Your body will thank you.

    If you really want some muscular calves, try keeping your heels off of the floor as well. Your legs will look like you are a ballerina soccer ninja.

  10. Lanius says:

    IMO.. standing desks are great in that after a long day of procrastinating through doing interesting shit I don’t really need to do.. I feel a little tired and am more likely to sleep well.


    I’ve got to think about that. But between the standing desk, the crossed Mosins hanging on the wall, the gun posters*, and other stuff.. my room is gonna look mighty strange to the uninitiated.

    *includes this almost CP** poster of Oleg, of a starved looking teenager holding an AR-15 with an ACOG with a caption ‘Stop dreaming, Get your own”

    **my father keeps saying according to Australian rules(A-cup nude models are akin to CP and thus banned) it is something like CP. Anyway.. If I ever get a girlfriend crazy enough to pose for one of these, I’ll get her to pose with a mark.37 MG for a proper photo. I prefer women who don’t look like WWII ghetto escapees…maybe it’s a Jewish thing.

  11. guy says:

    Marko, Where is your belly button in relation to the tabletop? I’m trying to picture playing WoW standing and I’d have to have the top of the table right under my sternum to be comfortable.

  12. Abigail says:

    I didn’t even know they had standing desks for sale. The idea of the contiguous space sounds really nice.

  13. freddyboomboom says:

    Your earlier post had a comment about the Jerker (or rather it’s replacement) from Ikea.

    I worked at an animation studio where if your desk wasn’t in a real cubicle, or you wanted a standing desk, then you got an Ikea Jerker.

    They are surprisingly sturdy and the shorter depth shelf was perfect for putting dual widescreen LCD monitors on.

    I highly recommend them for desks, but you have to get some sort of filing cabinet if you want storage drawers.

    Just a suggestion.

  14. Caleb says:

    Marko, you might want to try looking at a breakfast nook – I got my “standing desk” from Target, and it’s actually a breakfast table designed for using high stools. I use the stools for end tables off the side of the desk.

  15. Jared says: has a great product. That’s what I use. You can save a couple hundred by buying just the frame and supplying your own top via an old door or a sheet of plywood. I went the plywood route and cut a concave section in the front. Its actually nice to have the desk circle around you a little. Gives you a spot to rest an elbow.

    Also, you might want to find some sort of a foot rest; like a rail in front of a bar. It gives you an additional position you can shift in and out of. Anything will work. Wood box, old kiddy chair, an expired CPU, etc.

  16. emmkmm says:

    Your standing desk posts are making me laugh and remember a guy I tutored in college. He was a freshman in need of mothering as well as Calculus help. He came to our session one day beaming with pride. “Guess what I did?” he said. “Since I always keep falling asleep while doing my homework, I decided to make the top of my dresser my desk so I can work standing up!”

  17. Rafael Cervera says:

    this might interest you:

    also get a nice block of wood about 4″ high so you can rest one of your feet atop it and provide back rest.

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