Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Ergonomic update

I've been thinking about ergonomics a lot since my previous post on the subject. In my onsite work, I only spend a few hours at a time in any one position; classes range from 1 to 3 hours, but there are usually breaks every hour or so. Because I'm working from home this summer, though, I've been spending up to 4 hours at a time at my desk doing CART, and then several more hours doing transcript editing, transcription work, or miscellaneous administrative tasks. Unfortunately, it's made me realize how un-ergonomic my setup really is, and how vital it is not to succumb to the temptation to just plant myself in one place and not move from it until the end of the day. My back and shoulders have been warning me that I'd better mix something up soon, or they're really going to start complaining.

I've helped solve my leg fatigue by using foam blocks as foot rests, because they can be shifted around and rolled from back to front under my feet whenever my legs start tightening up. I can also change their height by resting them on their three different edges, and if I want them even higher, I can stack one on top of the other.

One thing that's helped with the planting problem has been to move from the desk to the couch for transcription work, as I mentioned in my previous post, but also to run off of battery power initially, so that when my laptop's battery dies about 1.5 hours later, I'm forced to get up and go into the office for the charger. It might sound silly, but if I don't create those distractions for myself, I have a tendency not to move until my work is done, which is a habit I need to figure out how to break.

Here's another thing I've done, which seems to help a fair amount during the actual remote CART work itself:

As I've said many times, I adore my split-keyboard setup. The only thing that sometimes bugged me, though, is that my desk chair is a little too deep, so in order to reach the keyboard I have to either lean forward (hard on the back), bolster the seat back with several pillows (they tend to slip around and aren't that comfortable), or tilt the tripod forward and the two halves of the steno machine up, which doesn't quite work, because the main arm of the tripod still tends to get in the way. Yesterday I hit on a new solution: I took the armature from my old Gemini 2 machine, put it on a second tripod, and then unscrewed my Infinity Ergonomic from its own armature, putting one half of it on the original tripod and one half on the new one. This allows me to put one tripod on either side of my desk chair, eliminating interference from the tripod's main arm. It's working quite well so far.

I've got a feeling there's one more piece to the puzzle, though. My current desk chair was $50. I bought it at Staples last year. It's really not ideal; there's no lumbar support, it doesn't go high enough, it wobbles a lot, and it's just generally uncomfortable. Every day I spend in it makes me resent it a little bit more. I'm seriously considering buying a fancier chair, but they can be amazingly expensive. Someone on one of the captioner forums I read recommended this one:

It looks great, doesn't it? Ball jointed lumbar support. Headrest. Tons of adjustable settings. But it's $500. Yikes. Do I really want to spend that much money for a chair? Are there cheaper but still ergonomic alternatives out there? If any of you have recommendations, I'd very much like to hear them.


  1. As someone who sits in front of a laptop (yes, also sometimes for insane stretches of time if there are no distractions) I can't say enough about having a good chair. It will last a long time and you deserve a quality support experience. I use the Herman Miller Aeron chair which is expensive new but perhaps you can find one on Craigslist or at a used office supply store? There must be businesses that close in NYC and have a ton of chairs to get rid of. It may seem like a lot of money up front but think about the money it (should) save in chiropractic/medial bills when your back says enough is enough :)

    There are a few things in life worth spending money on for quality: shoes, chairs, food, tools.

  2. More than a decade ago I bought the floor model of what was then a $400 chair. After 25,000 hours it's time for something new. No regrets. These days, I'm with this guy:

  3. I love this bungee chair:

    They make it with and without arms. The one without has round bungees, the one with has flat. I find the flat bungees to be much more comfortable, and the arms do not get in my way. :)

  4. I subscribe to the notion that if you're going to spend a third (or maybe more!) of your time for any significant period of time (months+) using one piece of furniture, it's worth it to get one that will be comfortable for you. Good luck with your decision!

  5. It's really important to get comfortable ergonomic chairs nyc since it's something that office workers often use for a day. And sitting for hours uncomfortably can (seriously) affect our posture.

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