Follow-Up: Treadmill Desk

If you read my first post about my treadmill desk >>here<< I promised I would come back with an update.

Well, I’ve now had my treadmill desk for 3 months.  I was on vacation for about 6 weeks of that time, but I have now used it enough to give a good analysis of what I love and don’t love about it.

First, photos of the set-up.  I have “stations” around my office to separate things out.

A large format printer station with empty table for projects:

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Dual monitors to one hard drive with wireless mouse/keyboard at the treadmill and wacom tablet and regular keyboard at the seated desk:

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TV on top of drawers that hide all of my supplies– I rotate the tv toward whichever desk I am currently using.  And also a Cameo
station on top of the filing cabinet.  And, um, nail polish:

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Things I Love:

  1. I easily complete at least 10,000 steps a day while working.
  2. I forget that I’m walking.
  3. I can easily type emails and Facebook/Pinterest/YouTube/Whatever while walking.
  4. I have much longer email endurance when walking.  I get extremely fidgety while sitting and having something to do with my legs while emailing keeps my brain more focused.   This likely stems from ADD issues I have.  If you are not good at multi-tasking, this might not work for you.  I have to keep my brain extremely active or I get distracted.  I tend to have very loud music or tv stimulation plus walking while answering email.  This keeps me focused.  Your mileage (bad pun) may vary.

Things I Don’t Love But Accept:

  1. I quickly realized that although I can do a lot of things while walking, I can’t design fonts and walk.  I have a dual monitor system to fix this issue– 2 monitors and 2 workstations in the same office that I rotate through as needed.
  2. The placement of the control panel annoys me, as I feel like the hard plastic bit on it rubs on my arms while I type.  This is not a dealbreaker.  I have found a spot to put the keyboard where it bothers me 90% less.  I can deal with 10% annoyance.
  3. I don’t like to drink coffee while walking.  I don’t know why.  I have to sit to enjoy my coffee.
  4. I didn’t have room for both a hammock AND a treadmill, so I moved the hammock to my daughters’ homeschool room.  Sadness.

I feel so much better when I get in my steps while working.  I finish the day with a good attitude.  I used to finish my work day mentally exhausted and physically sore from sitting in my chair all day.  Now I finish less mentally exhausted but having walked miles instead of sitting.  I’m not sure how that works, but it does.  I definitely notice that  my overall mood is better while work-walking.

I do vary speeds a bit.  I started at 1.4 mph while answering emails.  I can now comfortably do emails at speeds up to 2mph.  Again, remember, cardio is not the goal, this is just to keep MOVING.  There is a bit of a learning curve in trying to type and walk at the same time.  I use a Wacom tablet at my seated desk area, but I do have to use a mouse while walking.  I am getting better and better with “aim” while walking and using a mouse.

I have been watching some video tutorials on YouTube about Illustrator. When I watch those I am passively watching (not participating by doing something in Illustrator) so I do increase the speed to 3mph or 3.5mph while watching those.

I was definitely concerned about coordination and whether I would fall off the treadmill while working and injure myself.  This hasn’t been an issue at all.  I don’t get dizzy or anything either.  I’m sure this might be an issue for some, but it hasn’t been for me.

All in all, I’m extremely happy with this purchase and hope the health benefits of walking instead of sitting pay off longterm 🙂  And I walked 1.5 miles while typing this, which is better than sitting!

P.S. All drawer units, tables, and filing cabinet in my office are from Ikea.  The Alex drawers are my favorite!

Sitting is the New Smoking (Work At Home Real Talk)

It’s been awhile since I’ve discussed any topics relating to working from home.  This one has been on my mind and I haven’t been able to address it because it was such a big issue and I didn’t know what to do about it.

sitting

Around Christmas time, I got a Fitbit. I realized very quickly that I had an issue. I was active- in spurts. We would go to the beach and I’d get 19,000 steps in a day. And then I’d go home. And my commute is a single flight of stairs to my home office. And then I sit for 3 hours. Workout. Sit for 5 more hours. The workout isn’t enough. Articles like this one and this one and this one all point to SITTING being just as bad on our bodies as smoking.  Even for those who workout intensely on a daily basis, sitting is no good.

I’m not alone here. I’ve talked to several work at home friends and we’re all struggling. My husband realized from his Fitbit that he gets 7-9,000 steps a day just from walking around his classroom. He’s up and moving all day.  I’m not.  I sit at my desk- answering emails, designing, and doing all the daily things that I need to do on my computer.

After increasing frustration, I realized that I had to find a way to make my job active.  I didn’t want something that was going to take me -away- from working like adding another workout period.  My goal was to make the sitting time NOT sitting time.

 

Last week, I hit a breaking point and ordered the treadmill desk you see above.

Now, I don’t expect to be able to design while walking.  I may have to stand still or even sit at my regular desk.   But if I can use this to work through a few hours of email, it’s better than sitting for those few hours.

We are not made to sit.  Our bodies are just not intended to sit there all day long.  I hate the way I feel after hours at the desk.  I’m hoping this will help.

To be clear, this is not about cardio.  This is not about “working out”.  This is about moving (however slowly- moving!) while working.

Do you work at home?  In an office where you sit all day?  How do you deal with this?  Do you have a standing or walking desk?

If you have a treadmill desk, are you able to keep working as you are walking?

I’ll report back in a month or two with an update.

 

Working From Home: Building A Social Life

As a homeschooling mom, I often have people ask about what I’m doing to socialize my kids.

I laugh. The kids are socialized. No problems there.

It’s ME. ME! I’m a homeschooling mom who also works from home. When am I supposed to get socialized?

I’m not going to lie. I go days at a time without leaving the house. Sometimes I don’t shower until 3 or 4 in the afternoon. Sometimes, I shower and change from one pair of pajamas to another pair of pajamas. It’s a luxury to be home and it is a challenge to be home.

I love my kids. I love my husband. But sometimes they are the only 3 faces I see for days on end.  You know you’ve reached a point of desperation when you go to Publix just to hear the cashier talk to you as she rings up your groceries.

Tips for Making Peace with Being At Home

(There are only 3.  It is kind of a sad list of tips!)

1. Embrace the internet.

The internet is my answer. I know. I know. There’s nothing quite like a 3-hour chat with a friend over good coffee. But chatting with friends on Facebook helps fill the void. And honestly, most of my real life friends were initially met through the internet. I don’t find that creepy or weird– I find it very *today* and it is just the way things are now. I used to be a little ashamed or embarrassed about how I met my online friends. I am no longer embarrassed about that. My online friends have been like a giant web of awesomeness that has supported me through tough times. And when we connect in real life, it is never disappointing. Online friends were my destination in Northern Ireland this year. Other online friends helped us find a job for Keith when we moved back to America in 2010. Some of my closest friends here in Florida were long-time blog friends before they were real-life friends. They aren’t fake friends. They are real. So if you’re stuck feeling guilty or weird or ashamed about your connection with a group of online friends– stop it! Embrace it! Appreciate it!

This is especially true if you are home with a young child. I know there are playdates at the park. But sometimes, mama just needs to stay home. And that’s okay. And connecting with other moms in the same situation is a good thing. So don’t let anyone’s opinions of your online friends make you feel guilty! My online friends are the best and I am not one tiny drop embarrassed about that!

If you don’t have a network of online friends, FIND ONE.  Find a social networking group or forum that relates to your career, your hobby, or your faith.  It might take a few tries, but you will find a group that is right for you.

2. Once a week- Get Social in a face-to-face environment. No excuses.

I have made a rule for myself and it has helped me find a healthier balance between internet friends and “real life” friends. Once a week, I make the effort to have a social outing– even if it infringes on work time. I have realized that it is healthiest for me to have that time. I love love love my internet friends but I do need real life chatting sometimes. So I have a friend over for coffee or go out for coffee or meet a friend at Disney or something at least once a week. No guilt. No internal struggle over I should be working right now. That time is important and it refuels me for work. And that’s okay.

**This is not a hard-and-fast rule.  Your need for face-to-face conversation may be more or less than mine.  Find what works for you and make yourself stick to it!

3. Accept the Solitude.

Solitude isn’t always a bad thing.  As an extreme extrovert, I had to train myself to enjoy the quiet and the peace of a calm environment.  By extreme extrovert, I mean extreme.  My husband and I were taking a personality quiz before moving to China in 2007.  On a scale of 1-100 (1 being extremely introverted and 100 being extremely extroverted), I was 99 and he was 1.  We’re a perfect match, don’t you think?

Being at home has forced me to learn to accept quiet, peace, and solitude.   Usually, I cover it up with loud music and catching up on old tv series on Netflix.  But sometimes, I reflect on how nice it is to have a completely drama-free work environment.  I don’t have a boss breathing down my neck.  I don’t have coworkers who fight.  I don’t have complainers who drop in my cubicle or classroom and whine and moan at me.   My environment is positive and affirming, because I make it that way.  Isn’t that a good thing?

If I’m honest, one of the biggest reasons I struggle to make time to be social is because when I’m out doing something social I have major guilt about spending time doing something fun instead of spending that time working.

This all leads us to another fabulous topic– one that I’m excited to discuss because it is something I am dealing with head-on at the moment– Life as a Workaholic.  It is a sticky, gritty issue that I don’t like to deal with.  Can’t wait!

Working From Home: My Job is Real.

If you’ve never had to do this before, you totally will not understand what I’m saying. If you have, you will nod your head so vigorously your brain might explode. It’s okay.

So you’re at a dinner with a group of various people and everyone is introducing themselves. “Hi, I’m Pete. I am an accountant.” Smiles, acknowledgement. “Hi, I’m Susie. I’m a 4th grade teacher.” Smiles, acknowledgement. “Hi, I’m Kimberly. I’m a font designer and I also homeschool my daughters.” Silence. “You what?” “Fonts? What are those? Is that the 10, 12, 14 thing?” (I think they were referring to the size options in Microsoft Word) “So, do you have, like, a real job too?”

At that point, I usually just shrug and say “It’s like graphic design, kind of. Have you seen the Skittles package before? It has my handwriting on it. Have you seen Suburgatory on ABC? It uses one of my fonts on the title.” I scramble and stutter and look like a fool trying to explain the legitimacy of my job. It’s real. It’s legit. It just isn’t a typical job. It isn’t like little kids sit in bed at night thinking, “One day, I will grow up and work from home as a font designer!”

If you work-from-home doing traditional work, you probably don’t have this issue. But if you work in a non-traditional type job, you almost definitely have experienced this.

*Note: This is not truly a complaint. But there is a certain frustration inherent in being misunderstood. I think it is appropriate to validate that feeling. Feeling annoyed or frustrated because people in your life don’t “get” that you really do work doesn’t mean you aren’t appreciative of your job and the flexibility of being at home. I thank God on a daily basis for the privilege of working from home doing what I love.

To those who work in non-traditional jobs that may experience that flickering thought of Sometimes I wish I had a job that people understood and could relate to:

I just want to affirm you today. Your job is important. Your job matters. It doesn’t matter if anyone else in your life understands.

If you are earning income and you are happy, it really doesn’t matter if anyone in your world “gets” what you do. When you feel frustrated, just put a $100 bill in your pocket and rub it and say “My job is real!”

I’ve had people kindly suggest that I should look for a job, because it isn’t fair that Keith works and I’m at home.

First, even if I were at home with no income, that would be a valid choice and it would be none of their business.

Second, I am at home and I do earn income.

Third, it isn’t anyone’s business what I do or don’t do for employment.

But my point here isn’t to vilify those who don’t understand it. I just want to nod alongside you and say:

I get it.

I understand.

Your job is real.

Your job is important.

Your work has value.

Others may never understand. And that’s okay.

Future topics in this series include: Dealing With Distractions, Work-Life Balance, Workaholic Tendencies, and Staying Social