I’ve been <p>Learning the hard way that; Pain, Demotivation and Low-productivity can creep-up when you’re knee-deep in a startup or long project. You already take the time to ensure your tech and business model is setup and working well for you - so why not your teams physical health too?</p>
Once you fix your workstation - you'd be surprised at the subtle low-levels of physical pain relief, as well as the acute pain relief too. You become more motivated, more productive and much more engaged in the same-old-tasks - seemingly like magic.
Nurture yourself and those around you, before you fall apart and seize up like an old machine trying to reach the dividends.
A London based company I've had the pleasure of working with teaches such Magic to mere-mortals like ourselves, via eLearning...
Suffer & Learn.
Obsessed with tech since my first laptop, I've was blessed with bad wrists and unfavourable severe back pain.
Being slowed down at your workstation is a real professional risk.
When managing an SME or a startup - morale is a key player. If your devs and sales people are in lowkey energy-slumps or irritated with each other, or an irritable boss, everything can stagnate and fall apart before your growth stage even kicks in.
Part of the solution is nurturing a great working environment, with healthy personal life style habits among staff, but almost more importantly yourself too.
Removing negative pressures through effective management and physical ergonomics should be as much a priority as avoiding the office burning down in flames with appropriate fire safety... Most digital businesses forget this in the early days of success.
While working with a company called IBIS Training in London - programming and organising their business management - I was exposed to a new health & safety focused mindset to personal development.
Fixing DSE with Training.
DSE or "Display Screen Equipment", usually sparks the eye-glazing thoughts of dull offices, anoraks and ugly plastic desk accessories.
But, in the modern environment this extends to your iPhone, working on a tablet in the airport, using a standing desk at a custom gaming computer, a laptop in the lounge or even chilling on the Tesla's display while you Supercharge.
If you're one to fuss with custom mechanical keyboards (...Cherry MX and WASD Keebs FTW!), alluded by standing desks or just using the latest Microsoft Surface in the communal lounge - you can make some tiny, in-the-moment changes, that make a huge difference to your success.
Regroup & Redo Personal Health
Learning all the magic moves in the world, like having all the best tech out-there, is only going to help so much if you're already a mess...
First thing, buy a fire extinguisher for the office, and start
think about actioning your own personal health.
While working, wherever that is, make sure you're ready with actionable exercise, hydration and nutrition plans.
Giving your body the right things as a first step - is really the fundamental base to any sort of success, no matter your goals.
Optimise Your Behaviour - before theirs.
When at your workstation, what ever that is right now, you can tweak your behaviours to encourage progress.
Simple things like taking frequent and regular breaks from the current task may seem counter-intuitive, but it's actually at the heart of many well-followed productivity methods like GTD (Getting Things Done) and the Pomodoro technique.
Taking a physical break from prolonged computer use, like; changing cafe, a brisk walk or visiting the lounge - actually forces a mental break too.
As many computer programmers already know, most productivity break-throughs happen when taking a break - getting some clarity on the task at hand through distance rather than slogging it through in the same spot.
It also helps to reboot your eyes - resetting their focal-length by focusing on something a different distance etc. IBIS Training's DSE course goes into more details about how and why your eye's matter so much when working.
If you're not calling the shots just yet, and they like to have you chained to the desk - consider a better boss somewhere else - or educate them about benefits of DSE for their teams productivity.
Upgrade Your Workstation where it matters.
Setting up a workstation properly can take some practice and sometimes a second pair of eyes too, however there are things you can do right now or at-least plan to build into your working-life-style.
Having a great keyboard and peripherals like; a trackpad, trackball or the right mouse has changed my life, really.
Being blessed with the wrists of a feeble gnat has lead to RSI (Repetitive Strain Injuries) and even carpal-tunnel problems from the most basic of tasks - leaving me unable to use my hands to even refuel with the nectar-of-the-gods (coffee) at times - let alone programme a computer for profit.
For my specific scenario I had to ditch the squashy-mouse/wrist pad and mentally invest in a trackball.
Trackballs can take a few weeks to get used to but you'll be flying by with improved wrists in no-time. If not a good mouse can do wonders to the normal wrist-ed person.
And, the same goes for laptop and tablet stands and keyboards too.
If you're going to be spending many total hours in one place, try to take into account the slight things that add up - like craning your neck due to screen glare at 2.15pm for an hour, and even the long-term eye strain from a low-def or misconfigured & fuzzy monitor.
Dim yellow-light environments are great for home chilling, really bad for work and your eyes.
Sorting out the BIG stuff.
If you've got a whole office or desk workstation to plan out - take a look at the types of chairs available, the technical specs of chairs and consider flexible standing-desks - I personally used one for 15 months and absolutely loved it.
Avoid at all costs things like; corner-screens you usually see at receptions or on corner-desks, hanging feet and sitting all scrunched-up because it feels better.
It really doesn't feel better - your body is just in the habit of a particular pose - and the false feeling of sitting on cross-legged comfort comes from naturally drifting that way when engaged in mental work power-mode called "flow".
The details of chair arm rests and legs at right-angles, sitting up-right to the correct part of the display can all help to naturally encourage your body into better positions and help avoid energy-draining pains and long-term problems.
If you're interested in the back-wrenching details of improving your workstation - ask me on Twitter sending pics of your setup and I'll do my best to help - I've already been through the train-the-trainer style Workstation Assessor DSE courses! ;D or grab a - 20min - £20 - DSE Training online course from IBIS Training yourself here - it covers all the normal stuff and some more-fancy options like standing desks too.
Although this post was not sponsored - and since I'm sharing my own experience with DSE and their courses - I've managed to wangle an 11% off for my readers with IBIS Trainings blessing of a coupon!
First blog to get one too, use `devblog-dse` in the coupon field!