Overwhelmed at Your Desk? Try Standing Up

You may have seen on NBC’s “Today Show” the standing desk weatherman Al Roker has in his office. Or possibly you read The Washington Post report that 10 percent of AOL employees in Dulles, Virginia use standing desks.

Are you wondering if standing desks are the new “flavor of the month”? Not so!

Doctors point to research showing higher rates of diabetes, obesity, heart disease and even mortality among people who sit for long stretches of time. That is not why I started advocating standing to work, but it can be strong motivation.

Standing is not a new concept in working efficiently. Thomas Jefferson, Winston Churchill and Ernest Hemingway worked and wrote standing up, and Albert Einstein theorized standing up. Standing certainly worked for them.

I am not suggesting tossing your comfortable chair and office desk. In my office, I have a standard office desk and chair plus an art table that I use as a standing desk. I alternate between the two, depending on what I am doing.

Research has shown you have more blood in your brain when you are on your feet. Therefore, you are more decisive and make better and faster decisions. In addition, your paper stacks are not in your face. Subconsciously, you are bigger than the stack and so you feel more able to conquer it. When a client and I are trying to conquer a Mount Everest stack of papers, we tackle the job while standing unless health issues dictate otherwise.

One day I was working with a client whose paper stack would have reached the ceiling. After standing for a while, he asked, “Can we sit and do this?” I agreed, but when I later mentioned that I find this work goes faster when people are on their feet, he started to chuckle. I asked him what was funny. He said, “You are right. Ever since I sat down, I am reading the front and back of each piece of paper before I throw it away.” Back on his feet he went and soon his important papers were secured into a system that he felt comfortable using.

Need more motivation to try standing for some of your work? A Yale University study revealed that people who sit for more than half a day at work have a 60 to 70 percent greater risk of slipping a disk than their mobile coworkers.

When should you stand?
– When work feels complicated
– When you dislike a job
– When you have lots of papers to sort
– When it’s your body’s down time and you still need to be productive
– When your back is tired from sitting
– When you are returning to your office loaded with handfuls of papers
– If you are on e-mail overload and have a portable computer

A client of mine with attention deficit disorder said the suggestion to stand took away his tension. He was able to focus more clearly and stick with work longer. Schools that provide stand-up desks for their ADD students see a huge improvement in their work.

How can you put standing in your office into practice?

Once you find how effective this is, you may want to look at a permanent standing desk. Anderlyn-Desk.com offers an addition you can use on a desktop or other surface, adjustable to your height. And, if you are really into multitasking, there are companies that sell a standing desk with a treadmill.

Standing can be a simple and smart way to refocus your energy and work smarter.

Time Management: Reduce Distractions

Time management is a big goal for a lot of my clients. Often, there doesn’t seem to be enough time to finish up what needs to be done. The key to time management is to work in blocks on one item on your To-Do List only.

One of the biggest threats to time management is distractions. What you have to realize is that what you can do in 10 minutes will take 40 with distractions.

Some common time management distractions and solutions:
1. E-mail It can be very distracting if there is a constant flow of e-mail messages coming to you. Solution:
Change your e-mail settings so that it does not auto-deliver. Then you can filter through and answer your
e-mails in small blocks throughout the day.

2. Phone Calls Solution: Turn off your cell phone. If this makes you nervous, set a timer for an hour and
then you can check your voicemail.

3. Desk Paper Stacks Each pile of paper is diverting your mind from working and saying, “Should I be
doing this now?” “Is this more prominent?” Solution: The long-term goal is to eliminate paper stacks.
However, the short-term goal can be to perform a desk rescue.

Any of these can be daunting, but the benefit is to gain back a life and not constantly be at work. With
good time management, this can be a reality.

Conquer That Overwhelmed Feeling

Does your To-Do List make you feel overwhelmed?

If so, make a list of what you need to do.  Then for each item, ask yourself: “What is the Next Step?”

We can usually conquer the “Next Step” without being overwhelmed.  It is when we think of all the steps to be done on a project that we get paralyzed and then do nothing.

Doing the Next Step will get you started.  A very appropriate quote puts it nicely: “A job begun is a job half done.”

Conquering Your Mail

Clutter Collecting Thinking Trap: I’ll just quickly glance at my mail and deal with it later.

Organizing One-Liner:  Don’t touch your mail until you can process it!

Processing your mail means making decisions:

1.  Am I really going to order out of this catalog?

2.  I will put this bill with the other bills to be paid.

3.  These items are critical so they need to be filed.

4.  Magazines go where I read them.

5.  These items were not requested so out they go!

Tip: Process your mail standing and you will be more efficient!

A pile of junk mail

Tips for Managing Mail

Clutter Collecting Thinking Trap: I’ll just quickly glance at my mail and deal with it later.

 

Organizing One-Liner:  Don’t touch your mail until you can process it!

Processing your mail means making decisions:

1.  Am I really going to order out of this catalog?
2.  I will put this bill with the other bills to be paid.
3.  These items are critical so they need to be filed.
4.  Magazines go where I read them.
5.  These items were not requested so out they go!

Tip: Process your mail standing and you will be more efficient!