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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

In praise of working standing up

I'm in the middle of writing a very long article. In an effort to galvanise myself and guard against the usual web-based procrastination - check the Test score, check the email, check Twitter, etc - I worked standing up for three hours this afternoon. That meant composing a sentence, then advancing toward the laptop and tapping it in before walking round the room to compose the next sentence. I don't know whether it's any good but I do know I got more done than I would have done in the same period if I'd been sitting down.

Ideally I'd like a work surface around about chest height. Then I could work either perching on a stool or standing up. I'm convinced I would get more done. I've recently concluded that I can't really think without being on my feet. When I have to really think I have to be walking. When I have to think and compose I have to be walking quite a long way. I'm sure there's some simple physiological explanation for this involving blood and the brain.

Lots of radio DJs like to broadcast standing up. Since radio is all about attack that makes a great deal of sense; so much sense that you wonder why for years studio design made this impossible. If you wanted to stand up and broadcast it was difficult to reach down and work the faders. Similarly we tell anyone who wants to take part in True Stories Told Live that they have to talk standing up. It's impossible to command a room of seated people unless you're standing up and you can't project the amount of energy you need from a sitting position. Unless, of course, you're Ronnie Corbett.

15 comments:

  1. Big in Sweden apparently - I used to work for a company with a Swedish subsidiary, and in their offices all the desks were designed so they could be raised to chest height to allow for work to be done standing up.

    Most people did.

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  2. Donald Rumsfeld agrees with you - he worked standing up at the Pentagon, if I remember rightly, with a pulpit style chest-high podium/desk. Mark E Smith, of course, used to sing lyrics from a similar device at Fall gigs. Don't know when he stopped that practice.

    On a similar note, walking and talking go together like salt n vinegar. Two people walking together for half an hour will have a superb converstation. The same pair waiting half an hour for a bus will be pure stop/start/anticipation/frustration.

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  3. Your hero Charles Dickens wrote standing up. And I think Len Deighton does too.

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  4. Rumsfeld, Churchill, Nabokov, Bernard Shaw - working standing up has a long history.

    I have an electric desk so that I can alternate positions.

    http://wiki.43folders.com/index.php/Working_while_standing has useful info about it.

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  5. This is all great news. I may never sit again.

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  6. I've heard good things about Details height-adjustable tables: http://www.details-worktools.com/

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  7. Blogger Dan Benjamin wrote about standing up working and various workspace solutions he had researched. I found it a very interesting read and is something I've thought about looking into more in the future.

    Sitting, Standing, and Bouncing

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  8. I imagine that over many millennia of evolution, the human psyche has come to equate sitting down with relaxation, whereas if you are upright you are alert and active and readying yourself to hunt mammoth.

    I don't think that I've ever had a good idea while I was sitting down; that state seems to promote inertia and the desire to watch DVD box sets.

    All my best thoughts I had while I was either walking or standing in the shower covered in soap.

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  9. My background is in fine arts, and while painting I always stand.
    A common practise with visual artist. Mainly so that you can walk away from the canvas and see the image as a whole as the veiwer might.
    I believe I causes a greater engagment with the creative process. Sort of a mind, spirit and body thing.
    So it make sense that any creative act would benefit from standing

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  10. Bruce Chatwin was a great believer in walking to enable him to think clearly.
    He covered some distances over the Australian outback mind you.

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  11. I have a friend, a film editor, who edits standing up. As does a possibly more famous one, Walter Murch. (Apocalypse Now, The Conversation etc. etc)

    http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/viewFile/1168/2579/3869

    http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/viewFile/1168/2579/3864

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  12. Another who wrote standing up: Ernest Hemingway.

    See link below for evidence. Another of his aids to inspiration, apparently, was "the worn skin of a lesser kudu". Must try it.

    http://www.parisreview.com/viewinterview.php/prmMID/4825

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  13. You could always turn off access to the internet or invest in an old computer that will not allow you access.

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  14. Ronnie Corbett ....and Dave Allen.

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  15. Philip Roth too only writes standing - at a lectern I believe...

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