Author Archives: Karen Burke

Dear Ergo Diva – May Q&A

Mother with her daughter

Ergo Diva addresses your ergonomic questions…and their effect on health and well being

This May, Ergo Diva dedicates the column to the mothers of the world who give and love day in and day out for the sake of their children.  In order to do that, they must take care of themselves to keep their bodies healthy for many years to come. Awkward postures and twisting and turning are easy habits to develop, but so are healthy lifting and work outs! Ergo Diva helps readers around the country and throughout the world implement better practices and the use of ergonomic furniture and peripherals that alleviate stress, increase productivity, and contribute positively to healthy and happy lifestyle. Continue reading

Ergonomic Furniture_APR

Dear Ergo Diva – April Q&A

Ergo Diva addresses your ergonomic questions…and their effect on health and well being

This April, Ergo Diva answers questions from readers about tax time and gardening and their tolls on bodies and minds. She imparts advice for healthier lifestyles and healthier outlooks. Her advice continues to help readers around the country and throughout the world implement practices and use of ergonomic furniture and peripherals that alleviate stress, increase productivity, and contribute positively to healthy and happy people around the world. Continue reading

How to create peace in the workplace

10 Ideas for Creating a Peaceful Workplace

When we think of the most peaceful places we have experienced, we may think of a favorite spa, a vacation resort, a mountaintop hiking trail, or a beautiful garden. Unfortunately, many of us don’t (yet) spend the majority of our time on mountains or in gardens; instead, we spend our days (and some nights) at the office, in our chairs, at our computers.

However, our workplace can also be a source of clarity and peaceful inspiration. Just follow these ideas to transform your environment, transform your outlook, and transform your results. Continue reading

Woman holding basket with cleaning equipment on bright background. Conceptual photo of spring cleaning.

Dear Ergo Diva – Happy Spring

Ergo Diva addresses your ergonomic questions…and their effect on health and well being

This March, Ergo Diva answers three questions from readers about springtime sports injuries, spring cleaning, and new habits. She imparts advice for healthier lifestyles and healthier outlooks. Her advice continues to help readers around the country and throughout the world implement practices and use of ergonomic furniture and peripherals that alleviate stress, increase productivity, and contribute positively to healthy and happy people around the world.  Continue reading

Hot Desking: Good for Microsoft – Good for you?

Companies like Microsoft have found tremendous benefits in the practice of hot desking, in which workers are not assigned permanent desks, but rather work at any available station. This practice has been found to increase creativity and inspiration and foster collaboration. It creates a culture in which work is something people do as opposed to somewhere people go. Continue reading

Ergonomics Kids

How Kids Can Benefit from Ergonomics

We adults already know that ergonomics is beneficial for our bodies, minds, and spirits. We have learned from published research and our own experiences about the importance of proper posture, effective lighting, and ergonomic furniture. Many of us, however, have not paused to consider how our children can benefit from ergonomics. The fact is that they can and do benefit even more than we do. We just need to find a way to make ergonomics fun and exciting for them and they will do the rest! Continue reading

Ergonomics Valentine's Day

Dear Ergo Diva – Valentine’s Day Love

Ergo Diva addresses your ergonomic questions…and their effect on health and well being

This February, Ergo Diva answers three questions from readers about love and health. She imparts advice for healthier lifestyles and healthier outlooks. Her advice continues to help readers around the country and throughout the world implement practices and use of ergonomic furniture and peripherals that alleviate stress, increase productivity, and contribute positively to healthy and happy people around the world. Continue reading

Ergo Diva

Dear Ergo Diva – New tips for a new year

Ergo Diva addresses your ergonomic questions…and their effect on health and well being

This January, Ergo Diva answers three questions from readers worried about the aches and pains in their bodies. From suggestions for healthier sleep to advice for setting up an ergonomic workstation every day and help for discomfort from ongoing laptop use, Ergo Diva finds easy solutions to the problems plaguing her readers. Her advice continues to help readers around the country and throughout the world implement practices and use of ergonomic furniture and peripherals that alleviate stress, increase productivity, and contribute positively to healthy and happy people around the world. Continue reading

Ergonomic Office Spaces: Health, Design, and Function

Though people’s motivation to come to work is not always for their own well-being, companies throughout the world are investing in office spaces that are well-designed, well-lit, well-ventilated, and welcoming. Companies are investing in their employees’ health by creating an environment in which employees want to work, by selecting ergonomic furniture and design options that are human friendly. Continue reading

Ergonomics for Writers

National Novel Writing Month: Ergonomic Best Practices for Writers

In honor of November’s National Novel Writing Month, we salute the writers, the novelists, the next Charles Dickens, F. Scott Fitzgerald, or Dan Brown.

Writing takes talent, research, muse, and sometimes a bit of luck. But if you have all four of those elements, adding in a sprinkle of ergonomic best practices can help elevate any novelist to the next level.

Setting the Tone

The first step toward the next great American novel is the tone set by the writer, for the writer. Of course, the tone in the novel itself is critical as well, but before you can attend to that, you must set the tone and control your writing environment. Six tips to do so:

  1. To organize your thoughts, stage your area with the research you need and the necessary notes.
  2. Adjust the room temperature to your liking.
  3. Consider musical inspiration that is conducive to your writing (or, if you prefer silence, set it up as golden).
  4. Prepare to hydrate and feed your brain with plenty of water and nutrient-rich foods that will nourish you without distracting you.
  5. Find inspiration by selecting something to focus your attention on when you need to pause and gather your thoughts: flowers, rocks, shells, photos . . .
  6. Commit: Set a time and amount of time for daily writing. Set the timer so you can stay the course. Though writing is a creative process, organizing and structuring it releases your mind from worrying about those details and frees you up for creativity.

Ergonomic Tools

Some writers work in an office or library; other prefer to work in nature or in a Starbucks. Regardless of your choice, prepare the tools of your trade and always consider tools that are kind to your health and well-being. For example:

  • A laptop: more transportable than a desktop computer, a laptop is a must for any writer who plans on crafting away from the office or home.
  • A monitor: in addition to a laptop, having a stationary monitor at your main writing desk is being kind to your neck.
  • A monitor arm: additional optimization of height placement is added TLC for your neck (after all, you neck holds your head and your head holds your novel!)
  • A keyboard and mouse: also for when you are at your desk, peripherals will improve your posture (see below). Always set the speed of your mouse to the faster options to minimize required mouse movements. You can find this setting under your system preferences.
  • A footrest: keep your feet flat and supported with a footrest that is between 2-6 inches if your desk is 29” and you are 5’7” or shorter.
  • A document holder: give your neck a needed (and deserved) break by positioning any research notes at an easy to read angle. This will raise the angle of your neck and allow you to relax those neck muscles.

Ergonomic Tricks

In addition to empowering yourself with the right tools, there are some tricks to keep in mind. These practices are easy to implement and have great effect on your health and stress levels.

  • If your wrists rest on the edge of your desk, raise your chair, get your feet propped, or lower your desk. A keyboard tray is also a good option, as long as you make sure there’s enough room for both your keyboard and mouse.
  • If you have a lot of writing to do, some easy exercises will help: shake out your hands, clasp your hands together and reach out in front of you for a good stretch. Then get back to creativity.
  • If you invest in a fully adjustable chair, make sure you are using it well. Lock in the back tilt angle for upright back support and ensure that the seat cushion has 2-4 fingers between back of knees and front edge of seat.
  • Try standing sometimes. If you have a sit/stand desk, alternate between those options. If not, set yourself up to stand for a chapter or two per day. When you stand you access the most creative part of your brain.
  • Vary your work area: try writing from the couch, the desk, a coffee shop, your kitchen counter, or on a porch.
  • Take breaks. Try placing your printer in another room to force yourself to get up from time to time.

Ergonomic Posture

Probably the most effective change you can make (and possibly also the easiest) is to your posture. Remember these 3 pointers:

  1. Sit so that your knees are level with your hips and your elbows are level with your wrists.
  2. Your shoulders should be rested naturally; your neck and head upright and supported.
  3. Exercises are essential: do shoulder circles (5 forward, then 5 back), and neck circles, and always remember to breathe!

Be Healthy; Be Inspired

Setting yourself up with the tone, the tools, the tricks, and the posture will do wonders for your physical and mental health. And, when you feel well, you will write well. Writing a novel is a journey; these best practices will empower you to make that journey a comfortable, healthy, and enjoyable one.

For more information about optimizing your workstation, read this post.

Happy National Novel Writing Month! May your writing always be inspired and inspiring.

 

About Karen Burke

Karen is the founder and president of Kare Products, specializing in active ergonomic solutions. She has 30 years experience in ergonomic product design and consulting.