My Awesome Standing Desk Ikea Hack
A cheap, easy to build, and good looking standing desk made from Ikea parts and sweetcorn. Awesome
WHY YOU NEED TO GET OFF YOUR ASS AND DANCE! (OR, ER, STAND, AT LEAST)
We seem to be raising a lot of idiots these days, and since the idea of “hacking” everything is currently in vogue there’s a fairly good chance that along with the usual clique of highly independent and dangerously smart regular readers of this blog, a swarm of man-children (yes, that’s the correct pluralisation, and no, I have never seen a girl/woman wearing their trousers below their arse cheeks, so it’s not sexist) will have been attracted to my click-bait title.
Welcome, man-child. Feel free to look around, but please try not to be too ironic in the comments. You’ll scare off the regulars who actually understand how irony works.
For the super smart regular readers who also have to sit a lot for work (almost everyone), I’m guessing that you already know that sitting all day doesn’t feel great, makes you sluggish and less focused and productive, and is probably really bad for your back. You might not know that lots of very good research has now been done to show that sitting too much is probably going to kill you earlier as well.
Death by ergonomic chair. Man, the irony.
The NHS website cites one study involving 800,000 people that found that, compared with those who sat the least, people who sat the longest had:
- 112% increase in risk of diabetes
- 147% increase in cardiovascular events
- 90% increase in death caused by cardiovascular events
- 49% increase in death from any cause
Which is pretty incredible. You probably don’t need to know any more, except to realise that, with a few exceptions, you almost certainly don’t need to sit down to do your job. Standing desks are real, they’re a thing, they’re becoming more mainstream, and it’s in your employers interest to let you use one at work.
For all the man-children reading this during a visit to the local organic artisanal yak butter infused coffee shop, here is the illustrated equivalent of your mum explaining it to you with the use of a nicely drawn pop up book.
NO, IT WON’T MAKE YOU TIRED
Well, maybe it will at first as your body gets used to it, but if you’re anything like me you’ll find that you have more energy throughout and at the end of the day. Apart from the health benefits, here is a list of reasons I love standing up to work:
- I waste less time surfing, reading shit, and generally procrastinating
- I can maintain focus for much longer periods
- I’m much more likely to take regular breaks and follow the (proven to be effective) pomodoro technique of working in chunks and leaving your desk for a proper break at least once an hour (I do 45/15 minute work/break periods)
- I can dance about as I type
- I can easily pace about to ponder like people do in films
- I enjoy my work more
In addition to all of these fantastic benefits, sitting down now feels absolutely amazing!
HOW TO BUILD A STANDING DESK
There are loads of ways of doing this, and you definitely don’t need to spend £500 on a fancy motorised thing that will raise and lower at your whim (you’ll just end up sitting anyway).
The easiest method is simply to upgrade your current desk by sticking something on top of it. That could be a simple as putting your laptop on a box and using a mouse and external keyboard, but you could also get a cheap square of kitchen worktop or wood and use bricks or coke cans or anything else to raise it to the right height.
You can also raise the entire desk from the ground, again using bricks or bed risers, or bits of wood or anything else that you think is going to be strong enough to carry the weight.
Just remember these two important rules:
- If you use a computer the top of your monitor screen should be at eye level
- Your elbow should be at a right angle when resting your forearm on the desk
So if you’re a laptop user you probably want to think about using an external keyboard and trackpad (using a mouse is bad for your neck and shoulder), and maybe an external monitor as well.
HOW I BUILT MY STANDING DESK
I didn’t want to spend a lot of money, but I was also in a bit of a rush and wanted convenience over the pleasure of learning how to upcycle and refurbish old furniture and bits of wood into the style of desk I was after. I wanted something fairly big, with a clean look and plenty of storage so I could keep my work area tidy and uncluttered.
So I went to Ikea. I know, I know. But it worked.
I got a cheap and pretty environmentally friendly kitchen worktop for the desk surface, and a storage unit to provide the ‘legs’. I raised the unit about 16cm off the floor with some bed risers, and thanks to some crowd sourcing for suggestions, I found the final 7.5cm of height needed in the form of 5 tins of sweetcorn.
I couldn’t be happier! The unit has plenty of storage and with the optional drawers and cupboards I can keep cables and other crap within reach but out of sight. The space between the unit and worktop adds a cool look and a bit more storage, and those tins give the whole thing a real style!
I use a big external monitor, a cheap but very good bluetooth keyboard, and a Logitech trackpad, which means I never have to strain my neck looking down at my laptop screen again.
Here’s a breakdown of the main items and the total cost:
The drawers and cupboard doors in the Kallax unit are optional, and added an extra £50 bringing the total to around £170 (or closer to £200 if you need delivery from Ikea). Could I have done this more cheaply? Yes, of course, and I would have liked to. Not only would I have saved money but I’d have learned new skills, lessened my impact on the planet, and would probably love my desk even more. But on this occasion, convenience won the day.
I’d love to know if you’ve built your own desk, especially if you’ve upcycled it from pre-loved materials, or if you’ve been more creative than me. Just use the comments or find the Soulchaser Facebook Page to share your work!
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