It’s not just about finding a study desk and chair – 9 important tips

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The world is changing, and it’s changing fast! The way we work and study at home in the twenty first century has changed, especially in light of the COVID pandemic. Gone are the days of using your dining room chairs and table as a study desk, or even worse, your couch. The demands and opportunities of the modern world have led many people to rethink how they and their family are working and studying at home. Studies done on working professionals and university students have shown the adverse effects that incorrect sitting can have on your body. The consequences of sitting on the wrong chair include, but are not limited to:

  • Poor blood circulation leading to poor concentration.
  • Poor posture causing musculoskeletal disorders such as neck, shoulder and back pain.
  • Fatigue, depression and anxiety.
  • Increased body fat and weight gain.
  • Decreased productivity.

Your health and wellbeing is important and whether you are looking for a study table with a chair, or just a chair, here are some factors to help you create the ideal work area for yourself or your family.

How to set up your study desk and chair for productivity and ergonomics

The space you work in shouldn’t stop you from being productive. A space that is messy, disorganised, has poor lighting, is dull and noisy, will not lead to high productivity. Combine that with an uncomfortable study desk and chair, and your health and productivity will plummet even further!

By making a few simple changes you can create a working environment that will improve your health, wellbeing and productivity.

how to setup your study desk or table and chair for home use

Tip 1: Go ergonomic

Ergonomics can roughly be defined as the study of people in their working environment that involves designing or modifying the working tools to fit the worker, not the other way around. The goal is to eliminate discomfort and risk of injury due to work. Ergonomics has contributed to the wellbeing of many individuals in their workplace.

When it comes to working or studying at home, these good ergonomic principles are often abandoned, which is unfortunate considering the number of hours we now spend at home. Having a suitable chair, study desk or table and the correct home office setup, is essential.

According to a study in 2018, a staggering 74% of university students experience lower back pain.

A good ergonomic study chair is designed to support your body, and if it is adjusted correctly, will prevent back pain. The best ergonomic practices ensure that the height of your study desk, computer monitor and chair is correct. Height adjustable desks allow you to adjust the height of your work surface to an ergonomically correct position. Most importantly, they also enable you to alternate between sitting and standing while you work. 7 benefits of a Sit-Stand desk.

Tip 2: Keep moving!

According to the World Health Organization (WHO)a sedentary lifestyle is leading cause of disease and disability. Apart from the negative effects sitting has on the body, we sometimes become so engaged that we even neglect to breathe correctly which fatigues the brain and slows down the thinking process. Working remotely generally means more screen time, which leads to eye discomfort and vision problems. How do you overcome these negative effects? Keep Moving!

stretches and exercises for when you work or study at home using your desk , table and chair

Exercises and stretches should be part of your work or study routine. You will be surprised how it improves your mood and general wellbeing!
The Ultimate Video Guide to Exercises at Work.

Tip 3: Use hand-held devices with ergonomics in mind

The rapid advancement of hand-held devices offers greater flexibility for getting things done. We are engaged for hours on a daily basis staring down at our mobile devices, whether it be for work, study, social, or just to fill the time. As technology changes, so must our work habits. Overuse of hand-held technology and poor ergonomics, can result in health issues. For example, musculoskeletal pain in joints, muscles, nerves, and ligaments, as well as ill-health and sickness.

force on neck - choose the best office chair

When using a mobile device, most people slouch over a tiny screen and use their thumbs to type. This unnatural posture can result in high forces and pain, particularly the neck and shoulders.

Your spine is not designed to be bent over in an awkward and hunched posture for hours at a time. Furthermore our thumbs are not made to do repetitive tasks in such a small area. Watch this video for some healthy posture and ergonomic tips when using a mobile device.

Tip 4: Get organised!

The neater and more organised your chair and study table is, the better you can concentrate and make way to absorb new concepts and ideas. The way you arrange your keyboard, monitor, mouse and other ancillary equipment on your desk, can have a huge impact on your posture and wellbeing. Even with the correct table and chair setup in your study area, you may still experience discomfort in the neck and shoulders due to excessive leaning, twisting or over-reaching for items on your desk.

a messy study desk and chair area is not good for productivity

Ditch the clutter and only keep what’s necessary on your study desk!

How to organise the working area around your desk.

Tip 5: Light it up….naturally!

Poor lighting can cause eye strain, stress, and fatigue. There are two aspects to consider, namely the type of light and the position of your light sources.

The best type of light you can have in your study area is natural daylight. Ideally, set up your study space and chair near a window so that it receives natural daylight. If this is not possible or if you are working at night, you can recreate daylight using lamps that have a light spectrum similar to daylight. Research has shown that being exposed to natural light and natural views reduces stress, improves your mood and morale, decreases anxiety, and helps concentration.

study table and chair for a home office

Take your breaks outside and get some sunlight!

Position the light sources so there is uniform light and you can work without squinting. Avoid positioning your work station or lamps in such a way that the lighting causes a glare on your monitor. In other words, don’t locate your study table and chair in a manner that causes you to sit:

  • With your back to a window, unless you can block out direct sunlight with curtains of blinds.
  • Facing a window because that makes reading a monitor difficult.
  • With direct light in your face from your lamp. Ensure that the bottom of the lampshade is at about the height of your chin. This will create an even amount of light on your work surface.

Tip 6: Let nature in

Nature around the study area can reduces stress, improve your mood and morale, decrease anxiety, and aid concentration. Try to spend your breaks outside in the sun and get in touch with nature.

If an outside view of the garden isn’t possible, incorporate indoor plants in your study area. Add a large plant near your desk or a small one on your study table, or even fix them to a wall if there’s not enough space!

Tip 7: Quiet please!

Creating a quiet space with no distractions at home…“yeath right!”

Whether it’s barking dogs, Hadedas, a busy street, noisy neighbours or a house full of lively people, finding a quiet space might feel impossible. If working or studying in a quiet space is difficult, consider getting noise cancelling headphones to block out distractions. For some people, playing soft background music can help improve their mood, memory and concentration. For others, the opposite is true.
Does music help us work better? It depends.

Note: If you are studying or need uninterrupted focus time, make sure to switch off distractions like your cell phone and pop-ups on your desktop!

Tip 8: Add some colour

Adding colours in your study can improve productivity, creativity and your mood. Different colours elicit different responses. A higher intensity colour will have a stimulating effect, while a lower intensity colour is more soothing.

  • Blue is an intellectual colour and symbolises trust, logic, communication, and efficiency. Blue can be used as a primary colour to enhance focus.
  • Green provides balance and symbolises harmony, nature, and restoration. If you work long hours, green reduces strain on your eyes and brings a sense of balance.
  • Yellow is an emotional colour for creativity, friendliness, optimism, and confidence.
  • Red is a physical colour and embodies courage, strength, and excitement. It’s perfect for those areas that require physical exertion.
  • Orange is a comforting colour. Combining the physical attributes of red and emotional attributes of yellow, orange create a sense of comfort and warmth. When used correctly, it can be a fun colour.
  • Grey is a neutral colour for sleekness and modernity. When used inappropriately, it elicits a depressing mood and lack of confidence.

Tip 9: Make the most of your space

Simply searching “small home office ideas” will provide you with a range of articles on this topic. These will give you excellent and creative ways in which you can utilise those nooks and crannies and make the most of your space. Be creative and organised.

There are great compact sized study chairs available that are still ergonomic, such as a kneeling chair, and they don’t take up a lot of space.

For your study table, you can use a smaller, flip top or even a fold away desk and a small chair. To improve the utilisation of your workspace, consider using a document holder.

Conclusion

Buying a good chair and making these above changes to your work and study environment, will have a positive impact on your health and wellbeing. Go ahead and make those changes to create an environment that will boost your productivity, creativity, mood, concentration, energy and….reduce your stress!


Author: Philip Wichmann
Director at Karo Manufacturing (Pty) Ltd
13 July 2021

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