20 May 2014

Working At A Stand-Up Desk Will Get Your Better and Faster Results

As I walked around the offices of one of my long-standing legal clients a few weeks ago I noticed some of the senior associates and partners had stand-up desks for a portion of their work, including computer work in some cases.

Then last week, when I interviewed my friend and professional organiser Mary Pankiewicz of Exceptional Productivity, I found out more about the reasons and benefits of standing up. She works with people all around the US from her home in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Here are a couple of excerpts from Mary’s recent quick-readbook ‘You Can Be Clutter-free & Organized: Fast, Easy Organizing Solutions for Paper Piles & Your Office’


Standing: The New, Innovative Way to Win Over Your Stacks!

Standing is a new concept in current organizing that I have found extremely successful. I say current because others have used it in the past. Thomas Jefferson, Winston Churchill, and Ernest Hemingway wrote standing up. Einstein theorized standing up. History tells us how well it worked for them!

Why stand? The simple reason is you will have more energy, and the stack is not in your face. Subconsciously, you are bigger than the stack and so feel more powerful and able to conquer it. Research has shown you have more blood in your brain when you are on your feet, and so you are more decisive and make better and faster decisions!

My work with clients has certainly proved that true. If we are trying to conquer a Mt. Everest-size stack of papers, I make sure we tackle the job while standing, unless health issues dictate otherwise.

So, when should you stand?

  • When work feels complicated.
  • When you dislike a job.
  • When you have lots of papers to sort.Winston Churchill at his standing desk
  • When it’s your body’s down time, but you still need to be productive.
  • When your back is tired from sitting, and you need a break from being at your desk job.

How can you put standing in your office into practice?

  • Take a box and put it on the desk or table upside down to raise the height, so you don’t have to bend down.
  • If the office printer is flat-surfaced, work on top of it.
  • Put a small drawer unit on top of a flat surface to have a raised flat surface.
  • Use an art board such as an architect would use (this is what I use in my office).
  • Some small bars are exactly the right height for a standing desk.
  • Look around your office, and be creative.

 A Stand-Up Desk Might Help 

A Yale University study revealed that people who sit for more than half a day at work have a 60 to 70 percent greater risk of slipping a disk than their more mobile co-workers (Source: Every Manager’s Desk Reference, Alpha Books, 2002).


I’ve been thinking about changing my current desk so, after talking to Mary, I did some research to find a local stanMeerkat Deskding desk, or to see who had opinions. Very quickly I came across a clever start-up New Zealand company – the  Meerkat Desk  http://www.meerkatdesk.com.   I’ve immediately ordered one – it’s a very clever and inexpensive way to test the concept for less than $40 including freight.  By next week I’ll be able to convert my existing desk to a stand up desk whenever I want – and if I don’t like it I haven’t wasted a lot of money. I’ll tell you how it goes.

Nice work, Alice Farrell – I love the ingenuity! (Sorry, overseas people – she’s not yet shipping outside NZ.  Watch this space!)


Back to my interview with Mary – you can hear the full interview, which covers many other aspects of how to get clutter free, including help for people who are ADD-challenged, at Webtalkradio.net. Since last August I’ve been the weekly time management host for this online radio station based in Chicago. I love the privilege of interviewing and sharing an amazing range of experts from around the world on some aspect of productivity. (If you’d like to keep up with each show, just RSS feed from my page on the site or access the podcast via Itunes.  My show is called Getting a Grip on Time: Do More With Less and in Itunes, just go to the store and type in my name. You’ll end up in the podcast area and can authorise it to download each week.)

4 thoughts on “Working At A Stand-Up Desk Will Get Your Better and Faster Results”

  1. Couldn’t agree more Robyn. Since I’ve been using a stand-up desk (recommended by a client) my chronic back problems have improved out of sight. I started off with using archive boxes on top of my desk and then had a friend knock me up a top to my desk for my computer, etc. It’s great.

  2. Robyn Pearce says:

    Great feedback, Wendy.

  3. Veronica Bennett says:

    Nice timing for your article to arrive in my inbox – I used to work in a big ministry and was up and down floors, across campus etc, then I went to an NGO with a small national office team and have certainly been noticing the impact of sitting more as there isn’t the need to wander about! I’ve popped over to Alice’s site and ordered a Meerkat
    I like the comment about standing up also making the paper stack seem less – I’m behind in tackling my pile so will ‘stand up to it’ ;)

  4. Hi there Robyn,

    Great article which links in perfectly with what I’ve just posted about ‘Why Sitting Down Is Killing Us’

    Recent research shows long hours sitting leads to early death, even if we exercise every day.

    We really do need to break up the sitting with periods of standing even if it’s just intermittent.

    So its GREAT for our health and GREAT for productivity! An absolute Win Win especially for businesses that adopt this as a company wide approach.

    I would love to see it becoming the accepted norm to be active throughout our workdays – imagine how we could turn the tide on the obesity epidemic if we did so!?

    Thanks for sending me this link!

    Warm Regards,
    Lauren Parsons
    Wellbeing Specialist

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