Wednesday, May 18, 2016

My new ergonomic and travel-friendly work station

This is what my desk looks like at my new place:


After being inspired by A Little Adrift's ergonomic travel system for digital nomads and getting additional advice from friends Brent and Herm, last month I invested in three new pieces of equipment to join my workstation.




Why? Laptops generally put your body in a bad position—even when sitting at a proper desk and not in, say, a bed—because the screen is so low. This means you have to look down while working.

Rather, here's the desired position when working at a computer.
  • Your elbows should naturally bend at a 90 degree angle.
  • Your eyes should be looking straight out at the top 20% of your screen.
It's been nearly two years since I've worked as a freelancer, which means I spend most of my days at my laptop. Often I'd work in worse positions than at a desk or table, so it was way past time I invested in my wellness and changed my work station.

We only have one body to last us 80+ years (I hope!), so it's important to take care of ourselves. You might not see the harm you're doing, but all of that poor computer posture time can add up to some serious problems.

When I had been living with my parents last year, I experimented with a standing desk for a while using a cardboard box. I do think standing desks have merit, but since I don't have a permanent base at the moment (I've lived at five different addresses in the past eight months!), the best solution right now is something I can set up no matter where I'm working.

So here's what I bought myself in April:

1) Roost Laptop Stand


Cost: $74.95 USD

The ridiculously lightweight Roost laptop stand lifts your screen up to a higher height, such that you look straight out when you work. Despite its light weight, it's incredibly sturdy.

It's easy to adjust the height of the stand, so if you're working somewhere with a different table/chair height, you can still match it with the correct screen height.

This stand folds up into a super compact stick (scroll down on the link above, and you'll see a gif of the stand expanding and closing), making it perfect for traveling.

I 110% recommend this stand to anyone looking to improve their computer posture—whether or not you often need to move your workstation.

2) Logitech Bluetooth Easy-switch K811 Keyboard for Mac, iPad, iPhone


Cost: $87.97 USD

I might invest in a more ergonomic keyboard when I'm more settled somewhere, but for now I'm pleased with the Logitech bluetooth keyboard that I got. I'd almost bought a solar-powered keyboard at first, but ultimately went with this one for its smaller size (easier for transporting).

I've had to plug it in to charge twice in the past month, though sometimes I do forget to switch it to "off" when I'm finished using it. But even then, charging takes two seconds to plug in the USB cord, and then I continue typing as usual while it charges. (It's advertised that each charge will last between 10 days - 1 year, depending on how much typing you do and how often the keys are illuminated.)

If you use the Roost stand, you will need a separate keyboard. I went with a bluetooth keyboard (aka cordless) because who wants cords? Also, that frees up my USB port for something else.

3) Anker 2.4G Wireless Vertical Ergonomic Optical Mouse

Cost: $19.99 USD

Trackpads are pretty bad for your wrists. Luckily, using the Roost stand forces you to use an actual mouse. Among mouses, most of my pre-purchase research told me that trackball mouses are the absolute best, but a vertical mouse is still an excellent ergonomic option—way better for your wist and joints than a standard mouse.

I got used to using it rather quickly, and can definitely tell that all three of these combined keep my body happy. This is a USB mouse, meaning although it's cordless, I have to plug a tiny piece into my second USB port whenever I'm on the computer. Although I would have preferred a bluetooth mouse, so far it hasn't been a problem to only have one available USB drive while working. The mouse is battery-powered (AAA), and I'm actually not sure how long those will last, but I imagine quite a while.

4) Roost Keyboard Mouse Case


Cost: $34.95 USD

Although I mostly always work from home, I wanted to protect my new equipment when taking it with me elsewhere. I browsed some cheaper keyboard cases online, but ultimately went ahead and bought the Roost keyboard mouse case when I ordered my Roost stand.

I'm super glad I bought it, because it's really slick and perfect for transporting the stand, my keyboard and mouse all together. There's a separate compartment for the stand, which means it won't go moving around and bonking into your keyboard.


I'm very happy with these purchases, and could tell a difference right away in how my body felt when I started working from this setup. (Which is kind of interesting, because it's not like I'd had pain or anything that led me to change my workstation.)

What's your computer setup like? Have any of you seen the Roost before?
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