What is a standing desk?
A standing desk is simply a desk set-up that allows you to move your monitor up to eye level as you stand in front of your desk. There is usually a separate shelf that allows you to drop the keyboard down below the monitor where it is natural and more comfortable to type. There are uber-expensive desks that are designed for this that maybe you can convince your district to buy for you…probably not. You could purchase one yourself but we all spend enough on classroom supplies as it is. So, the best option in my opinion is to create a standing desk using your current desk as a base. Below is a picture of my standing desk “station.”
Why convert to a standing desk
First, let me tell you why I decided to start using a standing desk. Because honestly, this held no appeal for me at first. I was tired all the time to begin with so I couldn’t see why I would want to add the additional burden of standing all day. I did this during the 2015-2016 school year which was my last year in the classroom (you can read more about that on my About Me Page ). During this time I was desperate to feel some relief from stress, both physical and mental. I was seeing a chiropractor on a regular basis for neck and back pain and increased migraines. He asked me once about my desk situation. I told him about my awesome chair (the previous years attempt at comfort) that adjusts in every direction imaginable, I was so sure I was working ergonomically. Then he asked my “How often do you use your computer without taking the time to actually sit down and get into the correct position before using your computer?”
My lightbulb moment
It was like a light bulb went off! How did I not realize how often I used my computer by leaning over my chair to grab the mouse? All those little things to look up, grade changes, attendance, checking e-mail all seemed like such quick tasks, hardly worth sitting down for. So my posture was bent at the waist with my neck in an impossibly awkward position. No wonder my neck and back was in agony! Now, I ask you to think back, how often do you do this? Do you have neck pain like I did? Thought so! But don’t think that neck pain is the only reason to convert to a standing desk! The American Medical Association, MayoClinic and experts from Harvard have all warned us about the dangers of sitting all day long and the benefits of being more active. Being mobile is important, but as teachers we have to also have constant access to our computers. Enter the standing desk.
get Americal Standing.org
Once the problem was realized there were two options for me. (1) Make a conscience effort to always take the time to sit properly and position myself BEFORE using the computer, or (2) Make it so I didn’t have to lean and could, instead, walk right to my desk that is in correct alignment with my standing position. Well, I tried option 1 for a while and kept catching myself doing it anyway. I even started putting my wireless mouse on my chair as a reminder to sit first, but I would be busy and grab it off the chair to use in the incorrect position anyway…So, for me, the standing desk was the next step.
What do you need?
The first thing I realized after looking for standing desk options was that there was NO WAY I could afford to purchase one. My only option would be to make something. Luckily, my parents have given me the skills to be pretty darn handy (if I do say so myself). However, I was in a time crunch and didn’t want to start from scratch. I found this article on HomeDit about Ikea hacks for standing desks. I don’t know about you but I LOVE Ikea! Every August we make the 1 hour trip to the closest IKEA for classroom decorations and organization. Some of the options in the article were still a bit pricey for me but the version using the LACK end table was within my price range. I was so excited to get started!
-2 shelf brackets (I used EKBY VALTER) $5.00 each
-1 Keyboard shelf (I used KOMPLEMENT 29.5 x 13.75) $10.00
-Screws to attach brackets to the tables
-Drill and screwdriver
-an extra pair of hands doesn’t hurt
I used 2 end tables because I wanted to have more space next to my computer (see image above). However, if you are short on space you could use just one. As far as the brackets and keyboard shelf, these could be found in any hardware store. You may even have some lumber laying around that you can cut to size. I was going for EASY. No finishing, no cutting. It may be a good idea to position your mouse next to your keyboard where it is comfortable and take measurements so that you can get a shelf to accommodate. IKEA has many kinds of shelves in lots of dimensions.
Building your standing desk
You need to know the height of your school desk to make sure you create a standing desk that is right for you. In general, you want your monitor to be slightly below eye level at a slight tilt. Your keyboard should be at elbow height. I stood in front of my desk while my son took measurements so that I could attach my keyboard shelf in the correct location. Once you know where to place your brackets, mark holes for your brackets and drill holes to accommodate screws. Use screws to attach the brackets to the legs of the LACK desk. I found that since the legs were hollow, the brackets wiggled a bit so I added some construction adhesive to stabilize them. I wanted to be able to remove the keyboard shelf to make it easy to move them around for summer so I just used some adhesive strips to make sure the shelves didn’t slide around on the brackets.
Make it pretty
Since my desk was not against a wall, I didn’t want to have to see all the messiness underneath. So I used a few tension rods to hang some curtains to match my classroom. You can see the tension rods in the photo below.
Here is another view of the desk from the back:
*please note that this post contains affiliate links which means that I earn money if you purchase through the link. I only ever post links to products that I have personally used and found helpful.
I absolutely LOVED my standing desk! I found myself moving around more and adding steps throughout the day, my neck pain went away and I felt more efficient. Maybe it was all in my head but I just felt healthier. I starting finding excuses to walk more through out the day by walking across campus to the print shop and using the restroom on the second floor instead of the first. Theses little things began to add up to me feeling better and less stressed out. I felt more available to my students too. I never fails that the minute you sit down, someone would ask you for help. If I was standing, it was easier to just walk over and lend a hand. Now, you will have to take it easy at first. Sit at student tables to grade during your planning, sit down for lunch, and take a minute to stretch occasionally. I added an anti-fatigue mat that really helped and started wearing comfortable shoes. My favorites were these super adorable boat shoes from Sketchers. I have them in about 6 colors! The important thing is to listen to your own body and if you have any health concerns make sure you talk to your doctor. I’d love to hear how your standing desk is working out for you, comment below!