Find great tips and a variety of thoughts for being a more effective sales rep in the natural products industry.

Adventures in Standing Desks | Attempt #1

After reading what feels like probably the 5th or 6th article published on how bad sitting at a desk is for you, I decided to finally take action and start making progress towards setting up a standing desk work environment. While sales reps probably have less to worry about since we are moving about a bit visiting stores, it’s not uncommon for us to spend hours sitting in our cars as we drive to accounts. I had researched standing desks about a year ago and dove in once again and boy there has been quite the surge of creative ideas since I last looked into DIY standing desks!

For my first attempt I wanted start simple: Just create a raised platform I could place on my desk when I wanted to stand and remove when I didn’t. This offered me the opportunity to try the standing-desk lifestyle without spending hundreds to thousands of dollars in off-the-shelf standing desk solutions. The starting inspiration for this project was the $22 LACK desk. While I like the design, I felt like the huge square profile of the LACK table would take up too much space on my current desk and I wanted something that felt and looked a little classier.

I headed off to IKEA with a list of ideas in hand and wandered the showrooms looking for any bits and pieces I could cobble together into a workable solution. I will note that this visit occurred at 6pm on a Monday night. Visiting IKEA on the weekend is a fool’s errand. Don’t make things harder for yourself. After 2 hours of meandering I settled on the following:

IKEA Standing Desk Shopping List:

  • Two pieces of a HEMNES cabinet (as-is department, $5 each) – $10
  • Capita 8″ Legs (4-pack) – $14
  • Capita Bracket (2-pack) – $14.99
  • TOTAL COST: $38.99 (plus the cost a drill bit I needed)

IKEA standing desk construction

BUILD ALL THE THINGS!

The two shelves I picked up from the “as-is” department are both 24″ in length with differing widths (11.75″ and 12.625″). I started with the wider shelf and installed the 8″ CAPITA legs to the corners. I placed this on top of my EXPEDIT desk and tried this out just as a keyboard stand. It worked but was still far from ideal as it wasn’t even close to elbow height. I installed the CAPITA brackets into the second skinnier shelf that would hold my keyboard and mouse. I installed the brackets about 1.5″ in from the back edge and 4.25″ in from the sides so they would clear the CAPITA legs installed on the wider monitor shelf when I combined the two. After measuring, drilling holes, and combing the two pieces I was finished! The top shelf raised my keyboard and mouse to EXACTLY the right height and the back shelf put my monitor at just slightly below eye level.

 

IKEA standing desk

 

So there you have it! It works great and I’m enjoying it so far. The CAPITA legs are sturdy as hell and provide good stability. The monitor is slightly below eye level but it’ll work for now and I can easily fix this with by placing a phonebook (do they still make those?) under it. The keyboard shelf is at exactly the right height (elbow height) at 46 1/4″ or about 16.5″ above my current EXPEDIT desk surface. This setup works for my 6’2″, 195lb frame but everyone’s arms are different so be sure to take your own measurements first. For folks that aren’t as tall, IKEA makes shorter 6″ CAPITA legs and all the legs are adjustable by about an inch so you can make microadjustments.

What I’d do differently:

  • Use shorter screws. I didn’t think about this before I started the install, but the screws that come with the CAPITA brackets are just a bit too long and poked through to the other side of the shelf. Luckily my keyboard and mouse fit in front of them so there’s no loss of a stable surface for them and the screws didn’t fully make it through to the other side so I don’t have to worry about getting scratched by them.
  • Longer monitor shelf. The stand on my monitor is so huge that it’s the only thing that fits on the shelf. I’d probably go with a 38″ shelf next time so both the monitor and the laptop can be at eye level. For now just having the 24″ monitor provides plenty of screen real estate to work.
  • Balance. Because I installed the keyboard shelf so far forward from the monitor shelf the entire unit is a little top heavy and tips over with an easy push. This isn’t a problem when you have the weight of a monitor on the back shelf, but it’s something to consider. I had thought about this while putting everything together so I attempted to attach the keyboard shelf at a place that would provide stability but still put the keyboard and mouse far enough away from the monitor so that the screen wouldn’t burn my retinas.

What’s Next?

I’m going to give this set up a try for a few weeks and see how I feel. Already I feel like I need to be doing something more productive with my legs while standing so I’m looking at maybe adding something like an balance board to my set up (plus it’ll prep me for snowboarding season). I think the next step is to craft a fully adjustable desk with hidden storage for hard drives, wire management, etc. I’ll be sure to keep you all posted!


Today is World Backup Today

Today is the first ever World Backup Day, a day intended to encourage everyone with a computer to make sure their data is backed up and safeguarded against loss.

As computers and technology become more a part of both our work and personal lives, it becomes increasingly more important to secure and backup the data stored on those devices. A recent study showed that only 15% of computer users back up regularly. Don’t run the risk of losing your entire digital life to a hard drive crash or other tragedy. BACK UP!!

I recommend and follow a 2-tier backup strategy consisting of both a local and online/offsite backup solution.

1. Local Backup

Create a local backup on an external hard drive at your home or office. I have an external drive that I plug in once a week on Sunday and use SuperDuper! to make a duplicate copy of my laptop’s hard drive. If you are on a mac, I highly recommend using SuperDuper! or something similar to make a complete back up of your drive rather than just backing up selective files or folders. The advantage in this is that Apple computers allow you to boot from usb & firewire external hard drives. All you have to do is plug it in, and you’ll see your desktop from the last time you backed up. I’ll describe the importance of this later when I share my own stories.

2. Offsite Backup

So you’ve got your computer’s entire hard drive backed up locally to an external drive in your house. While this is an excellent start and you’re already ahead of probably 90% of everyone else out there, a local backup is still susceptile to theft, floods, fires, and other natural disasters and tragedies. If your house were to burn down with both your laptop and backup drive, you’d be out of luck. It’s for this reason I also recommend an offiste backup where your files are stored either online or on a physical hard drive in another location (for example at work or a friend’s house). Read the rest of this entry »