What can I do, ergonomically speaking, to work smarter without a computer?
November 7, 2004 10:02 AM   Subscribe

Ergonomics for non-computer users: I work all day, but I don't use a computer for any of it. What can I do, ergonomically speaking, to work smarter? [MI]

Over the last couple of years I've switched careers--from web design to humanities graduate school--and computers have slowly been fading out of my work life. Now the only technology I carry with me to work comes hidden away in my iPod and my Palm Pilot. Otherwise my work equipment is: books, notebooks, pens, pads, and page points.

As I've switched from computer work to 'analog' work, I've encountered all sorts of new ergonomic problems. For example, my Aeron chair--which was formerly da bomb--is now actually really uncomfortable, since i spend all day reading and looking downward, not typing and looking at a computer monitor. I take most of my notes in paper notebooks, and so my hands get tired from lots of writing. To top it all off, I have really bad vision, and so I read with the book quite close to my eyes: this is giving me bad posture when I read at a desk. A big stuffy armchair is preferable, but doesn't exactly promote alertness, I find, plus there's no writing surface. I've looked around on the internet, but it seems as though 'ergonomics' mostly means RSI and computer issues for most of the web (not surprisingly, of course).

Does anyone who spends a lot of their day in an analog environment have some ergonomics advice? I'm thinking of stuff like: ergonomic pens; lap desks; book stands; standing desks; and desk chairs that, unlike my Aeron, are designed for old-fashioned work focused on the desk surface rather than on the computer display.
posted by josh to Work & Money (3 answers total)
I have many of the same issues as you but not any fantastic solutions. Here are my initial responses since nobody else has popped in here yet. Check out the comfy pen thread recently to pick a pen that has smooth ink and an ergonomic barrel for lots of note-taking.

Also, look through the Levenger catalogue. I find some of their items outrageously priced, but they give me great ideas for home-brewed solutions or keywords to look for on the rest of the web or eBay. This lap desk on their site looks expensive but useful for reading in a chair with implements and notepads. A quick eBay search for "lap desk" yields this [much] cheaper option that looks rather similar. Their Reader's Table might work for you - it looks like you'd be able to place the book you're reading on that, closer to your face/eyes, and have a notebook close at hand for taking notes (or on your lap.) In that same vein, a book stand for your desk can be invaluable for copying sections of book at a time. I have a book weight (like a long bar) that keeps the book open to the page I need while using it for reference. Sure beats every other solution I'd had before that.

Finally, I can't stress lighting enough. Dim lighting hurts the eyes, the brain, the concentration and the work itself - get proper lighting for the tasks at hand. Overhead lighting isn't always enough; again, Levenger has many reading-specific lighting and seating solutions that will give you a frame of reference when looking at other [cheaper] options. FWIW though, I've sprung for a few things off their site in the past, and have always been impressed with the quality. Hope that helps!
posted by fionab at 5:59 PM on November 7, 2004

Oh yes, Ergoboy has some things to say about reading ergonomics.
posted by fionab at 6:58 PM on November 7, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks fionab. One solution I've come to on my own is the Ott-lite VisionSaver lamp, which is amazing--it's one of those virtual-daylight reading lamps, and is really invaluable.
posted by josh at 7:52 PM on November 7, 2004

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