It seems everyone I talk to is feeling overwhelmed. There is too much to do and not enough time to get it all done. To many, being as productive as possible means accomplishing everything you need to get done. For me, productivity is more about getting the right things done, not just getting more things done. I will address this topic in more detail in a future issue of TechTips.
Today’s topic was inspired by a question from Scott Harwood at Harwood Insurance about workstation ergonomics that can help anyone be as productive as possible.
There are several factors that go into creating the best workstation layout. Ergonomics is key to making sure you are as productive as possible. Following are some of the elements that will help you create an ergonomically-friendly workstation environment that will help you get more done.
Physical Workstation Setup
Optimizing the physical setup of your workstation is the first place to start.
- Importance of desk chair: It needs to be as comfortable as possible. Having the right chair can make a big difference in your comfort while sitting.
- Mouse setup: Most people use a traditional mouse that does require you to continually move your hand to move the mouse. I use a thumb mouse, so I do not have to move my hands to move the cursor. A bit more efficient and more comfortable on my wrist.
- Keyboard shortcuts: I firmly believe that every time you move your hand from the keyboard, you waste time. Yes, there are times when the mouse is the best option, but my preference is to use a keyboard shortcut to accomplish an action.
- Keyboard wrist rest or not: The use of a wrist rest is a bit more of a personal preference. Using wrist support can help cut down on wrist fatigue.
- Traditional keyboard vs. split keyboard: I have used a split keyboard for some time and do find it harder to use a conventional straight keyboard.
- Use of voice recognition software in place of typing: I have talked many times about the benefits of voice recognition software. Eighty percent of this article was dictated using the Dragon Anywhere iOS app. I can speak much faster than I can type!
I wrote about the benefits of a standing desk in a previous TechTips: Consider Using a Standing Desk. I still think it is a great option that I see many more agency staff use.
One area I have not explicitly addressed is how to reduce monitor eyestrain. By following a few simple guidelines and by making some physical adjustments to your workspace, you can avoid putting too much strain on your eyes. Here are some tips:
Use the 20-20-20 Rule. This rule states that you should look away from your screen every 20 minutes for 20 seconds at a time and focus on a fixed point 20 feet away. There’s a free web app called Protect Your Vision that alerts you every 20 minutes so you know it’s time to give your eyes a rest. The app is compatible with Chrome, Firefox and Safari.
Monitor Position. Position your monitor 20-30 inches away from your face, and make sure your eyes are level with the very top of your monitor. If you can’t adjust your monitor height, simply stack some books or old manuals beneath it. Adjusting your chair or your standing desk can also help. You should be looking slightly down at your work. Locate the center of the screen between 15 and 20 degrees below horizontal eye level.
Text Size and Color. Screen text should be three times the smallest size you can read from a normal viewing position (the 20 to 30 inches mentioned above). For color combinations, your eyes prefer black text on a white or slightly yellow background. Other dark-on-light combinations work fine for most people. Avoid low contrast text/background color schemes.
Eye Care. Contacts can be a challenge as your eyes have to work harder when staring at a screen. Switching to glasses once or twice a week will help reduce the onset of eye strain. I have “computer glasses” that are tinted yellow to help reduce eye strain. Whether you wear corrective lenses or not, moistening eye drops are great for refreshing your eyes during the workday.
Display Brightness and Glare. Set your monitor’s brightness so that it will match your surrounding workspace brightness. To achieve this, look at the white background of this page. If it seems like a light source in the room, it’s too bright.
Workspace cleanliness and sanitation
Today, more than ever, people are health conscious. Keeping your workstation clean and clutter free is another step to being as productive as possible. A confession: I don’t clean my workstation very often. But when I do, I feel better.
Sanitize your workstation on a regular basis. A simple disinfectant wipe-down will help keep those germs away. You should wipe down:
- Your workstation
- Your keyboard
- Your mouse
- Your desk area
- Your chair
Making sure your workstation is optimized will help reduce stress and increase your productivity. My hope is some of these suggestions will help. What other steps have you taken to optimize your workspace?