Set up a Computer Centered Workspace

Want to enjoy working at your computer, thinking better, and getting your work finished faster? Take a hint from activities that require much more sitting (like watching TV), endurance (like trucking), and sustained maximum performance (like car racing). Don't slump over your work – recline and look up into it! Unless your job requires it, there's no need to look attentive like a receptionist (an activity of interruption and stress). Instead, focus on setting up a computer centered workspace that helps you to work in a comfortable way.


  1. Adopt a neutral posture. Arrange your body in its natural relaxed geometry. Unfortunately, since that is the fetal position, you'll have to make a few changes to be able to do anything. Sit up to free your arms for work. Since doing this puts weight on your back, straighten out so that the weight not supported by the back of the chair transfers neatly down your spine without strain on the back muscles and connective tissues. And balance your arms and legs so that they don't pull on your back or put stress on the more delicate extremities. This will free your full attention for work.
    • Use what you have. You might not have a particular kind of equipment, your equipment might not have a particular adjustment, or a particular adjustment might be incompatible with your work (perhaps you're a receptionist required to sit erect). Go through all these steps and get as close as you can to the suggestions outlined here. Adjustments to one part of your setup can often mitigate deficient adjustments to others. Then consider where money might well be spent on additional equipment to fix remaining problems.
  2. Select a chair. Look for:
    • Surface:
      • Vinyl[1] or similar smooth plastic requires little care. ("Bonded leather" is essentially vinyl, not leather: don't pay extra for it.)
      • Leather[2] is stylish and also tends to stay clean. "Full grain" leather is best; "top grain" is a middle grade; "split grain" is cheaper but can still be fine.
      • Cloth is grippy, breathable to prevent sweat accumulation, and can stay cleaner if treated with fabric protectant such as Scotchgard[3] by the manufacturer or after purchase, preferably when brand new to protect as clean fabric as possible and not seal in dirt.
      • If you're buying used, you may prefer an impermeable surface such as vinyl, shiny leather in good condition, or wood or hard plastic (for which you'll need an exact fit) because it can easily be made about as clean as new. Natural materials often require more careful cleaning than synthetics.
    • Support: Build a Wire Mesh Compost Bin is a surface and a support. It allows air to circulate for coolness. But since each part is supported only by adjacent parts, it tends to sag like a hammock or waterbed, and ramp up toward a relatively immovable edge supports. Adjustments within the middle of large padded areas, such as for the lower back, and clever design of edges which the body will contact, such as a rolled-over or foam-padded seat front, can help. Foam supports better, lifting each small area discretely from underneath, like a mattress. Avoid thin, soft-when-new foam (or, with used furniture, foam with softened or compacted spots): it will rapidly "bottom out" under heavier areas.
    • Style: The chair should support the back and the shoulders. This style is often known as a "manager's" chair. Your neck should be straight so your head will balance itself and not need the headrest characteristic of an "executive" chair. While an executive chair can work, be sure to check that it has the full range of adjustments. Some are more ostentatious than practical.
    • Fit: There are many different kinds of chairs carefully designed many different ways. Most of them probably fit someone very well before the manufacturer decided to make many, many copies. More expensive ones often adjust more to fit more people in more positions. It's generally best to try out and buy a chair in person to make sure it can fit you, and well worth paying a reasonable premium for having the facility to try it and the salesperson to explain it. Sit in it at a desk as if typing, not just relaxing or hunching attentively forward. Look for one that fits well with each of its major adjustments somewhere in the middle of its range, not all the way at one end: you might decide you'd like your chair a little different later.
    • An old-fashioned highly adjustable wooden chair looks great, but make sure the contours fit you perfectly and the armrests (which are typically not adjustable) are at a proper height and will not interfere with keyboard placement. If they do, they'll support you just as well as a foam chair; your body would mesh to that shape. These chairs tend not to have upper-back support, though.
    • You can even Make a desk chair from a car seat.
  3. Adjust the chair. You may need to fine-tune some settings once the others are about right.
    • Adjust the back tilt. The further you recline, the more the weight of your torso rests on the chair back and the less it presses down on the backbone. Try 20 to 30 degrees back.[4] This substantial tilt will also gently pull you back into the better-supported reclined position rather than letting you slump forward into a slouch after you lean forward out of, or to show, interest in something.[5]
      • Lock the back in place at the proper tilt.
      • If the back can't be locked, see if you can set the maximum amount of recline and reduce the tension so it readily flops into place.
      • If the amount of recline can't be adjusted (on some chairs it may lock at each end of a range, neither of which is desirable), adjust the tilt tension so that the Select an Ergonomic Office Chair tends to balance at the proper angle when you relax in it.
      • Reclining more would reduce the stress on your back even more, but would require odd placement and angles for the monitor, keyboard and other office equipment.
    • Adjust the seat tilt. The seat should be tilted back a little so that your hips are not extended unnaturally, and the angled downward force from your back doesn't tend to slide you out of the seat. Some chairs tilt the back and seat as a unit; others tilt the seat with the back, but not as much, through a more complicated mechanism often called "synchro-tilt". Some might allow tilting the seat separately. See which you prefer.
    • Adjust the back height. Chair backs often have a more protrusive part to go under the mid-back, and a hollower part for the shoulders. Adjust the back (or, on some chairs, different parts of the back) to put these in the right places.
    • Adjust the seat extension. Chair seats often have a hollower part to go under the upper thighs and a fatter part to go under the lower thighs. Slide the seat forward so that the lower thighs are well-supported, but not so far forward that there is pressure on the inside part of the knees or associated Build Up Your Achilles Tendon. The tailbone should go all the way against the back of the chair.
    • Adjust the feet. The feet should be supported at a neutral angle (extended a little), and at a height such that the legs neither dangle and pull on the knees and themselves, nor push up the knees allowing the hips to twist forward and not support the lower back as well. There should be a moderate amount of pressure on the lower thighs.
      • The best way is an angled footrest. Some are adjustable.
      • Don't wear high-heeled shoes; if you must, prop the balls of the feet on something for a comfortable angle in them.
    • Adjust the arms. The armrests should be close to the body, so that the arms don't tend to slide out from supporting the shoulders. The armrests should be at a height just a little lower than that to which the arms would dangle naturally on their own, so as not to allow the arms to pull on the shoulders or push them up. The wide part of the forearm muscles, the central outside surface of the forearm bones, or both, should rest on the armrests. The forearms should balance in such a way that the wrists extend straight from them (as viewed from the back surface of the hand) to a point an inch or so over the keyboard, propped up gently by the natural relaxed curl in the fingers which are resting on rather than striking keys at any given time. This will balance the arms so there is no weight continually to be supported by the Support Your Wrists when Writing on a Computer, except a tiny amount supported by the fingers in their naturally curved positions, or hanging continually on the shoulders. Allow the upper part of the upper arms to rest against the chair back, in plane with the torso (but elbows out a little so the arm muscles can all move freely). The elbows can rest on the arm rests too, but much of the weight should be on the fat part of the forearms.
      • Broad, convex, padded armrests are best.
      • The armrests and their supports should not extend forward much lest they interfere with the keyboard drawer extension. The armrests normally extending forward from a post on some chairs can be reversed side to side to extend backwards. The then-backward-extending part is ignored, and the forward-extending part is just long enough to set the forearm muscles on. The armrest for the non-dominant arm may need to be a little higher because the muscle leaning on it may not be so large.
      • The distance from the armrests to the body is often nonadjustable. Avoid a chair that is very wide, unless you are too.
      • The wrists should not be supported directly, only by leverage from a well-balanced forearm and weakly by the relaxed and key-striking fingers. They have many tendons running across the inside surface that control the hand and wrist with muscles in the arm.[6] They tend to bob outwards with use and are much more sensitive to tangential pressure than the arm muscles. Wrist pads can actually make them sore.
      • Don't support the palms directly, either. Without an unusual-shaped support, this would require bending the wrist, stressing the tendons running through it, and twisting it. This makes finger-control awkward, and makes it more difficult to hit further keys by slightly swinging the forearm. It also requires more key striking force to come from the weaker fingers than from the stronger wrist, hand and arm.
    • You don't need a headrest. The head and neck should be perfectly vertical so they tend to put all their weight neatly onto the bones, requiring only small weak muscle movements to maintain the position.
  4. Select a keyboard. An "ergonomic" style, curved outward and preferably raised at the center, is best, but takes a while to get used to. It keeps the wrists straight and at their relaxed state of rotation when the elbows are at the user's side or out just a little, so that the shoulders are supported, and the arms turned inward toward the center of the keyboard.
    • The keys should have a snappy feel for feedback when they are pressed. Don't push them so hard they "hit bottom" firmly; the shock is very wearing to the body. If you can't stop doing that, get a buckling-spring type keyboard like an IBM Model M[7], which can be tapped harder. Those are very loud, though.
    • Unless you spend much time entering numbers, look for the absence of a numeric keypad so that the mouse can be closer to the keyboard. If you can't get the keyboard style you like without one, try Cut the Number Pad off a Keyboard.
    • You might like to try a keyboard like the Microsoft Natural Elite keyboard. Microsoft keyboards and mice work well with most operating systems and programs, including free software.
  5. Adjust the keyboard. Make it close to flat (retract any rear props). Place it so the typing "home keys" are directly in front of you. They should be close to your body, and low enough that your forearms stay straight. Your wrists should be straight and fingers curving gently down onto the keys. That will probably require a keyboard drawer.
    • Remember not to rest your wrists on or in front of the keyboard, even if it has an extended area there.
  6. Select a mouse. If you mostly type, the mouse is not very important. Ideally, it should be an optical mouse, which works more consistently than a ball-containing mouse, and on a cloth-covered neoprene mouse pad for smooth movement. If you're left-handed, get a left-handed or symmetrical mouse. Some users like trackballs, which require less wrist movement, but they're less precise and, because sensitivity thus can't feasibly be increased as much, slower. A mouse with buttons discrete from a fat rear part upon which the front part of the palm simply rests (namely, most mice aside from some Apple ones) allows the hand and arm to stay relaxed.
    • A mouse with a cord is lighter and easier to move than one without a cord. The cord will also keep it from falling off a small surface like a keyboard tray and getting lost. Secure the cord loosely to something near the mouse, leaving some slack, so the weight of most of the cord has no effect on moving the Find New Mouse Cursors.
    • Avoid some more-complicated keystrokes by using a mouse that has the full range of common buttons, including at least a left button, right button, and clickable scroll wheel. Five buttons are the most that is commonly used. A scroll wheel that clicks as it scrolls is less smooth but more precise and much better for games, in which each click performs a discrete act such as making a new selection.
    • A mouse with a heavy, free-scrollable, flywheel-like mouse sometimes marketed as "hyper-fast" scrolling reduces finger and wrist motion and increases speed of skimming large documents as one generally need only guide it to start and stop: it keeps itself moving. A heavy trackball works similarly in two dimensions, but at least generally is not available as a scrolling device on a mouse or configured to work in tandem with a mouse for fast scrolling. Some mice have integrated touchpads for scrolling that could work similarly, and in multiple directions, if configured for continuous scrolling at a rate controlled by a static touch.
    • Some trackballs and touch pads are integrated into keyboards. The best place for these devices is generally a spot on the keyboard easily reachable from the typing "home" position, such as in the plastic flange "wrist-rest" (use thumbs).
  7. Adjust the mouse. It should be near the keyboard to reduce arm motion and the need to extend the arm to a less-than-optimal position.
    • If you're left-handed, consider switching the left and right buttons' function in the operating system.
    • Increase mouse sensitivity, preferably with acceleration, to reduce the total distance you need to move the mouse. Gentle wrist or even finger motion should be all that is needed.
  8. Select other input devices as necessary. Try to keep them near and at the same level at the keyboard.
  9. Try a keyboard "tray" or "drawer". The arms and tops of the hands, which contain tendons extending into the arms by which the fingers are controlled, should extend straight forward. The easiest way is with a keyboard "tray" or "drawer". It should be just about on your lap – the precise height will depend on your arms, their supports, and the keyboard itself.
    • A big wide tray is usually best because a mouse can go next to it and things will not tend to slide off, but sometimes interferes with armrests.
    • The elbows should be slightly outward so the hands need not themselves turn inward to reach the keys. This will mean the keyboard needs to be close to the stomach. Pull the tray out, and pull the chair up to it.
    • Some elegant old desks have central junk drawers with thin panels underneath that inhibit mounting keyboard trays. Adding a keyboard tray in the junk drawer area can make them much more practical. Don't mutilate the junk-drawer area and remove the box's contribution to the desk's structural integrity: just set the drawer aside and add a rail-mounted keyboard tray inside its old home. Find one whose hinged arm (and other components) are shallow enough and fold flat enough to slide into the drawer cavity when not in use. Mount the rail to the sturdy desktop with shortish screws that won't poke through, measuring for and drilling holes through non-critical areas of the junk-drawer area bottom panel to drive them. The rail must come far enough out along the bottom of the desktop to allow the hinged arm's carriage to swing out and down for use while fully secured. For the ultimate in style, mount the junk drawer's old front as a swing-down or swing-up cover for the stowed keyboard (a modification that may not be easily reversible, and beware of interference with legs or the keyboard tray).
  10. Select one or more monitors. LCD monitors are pretty much universal now, and tend to cause less eyestrain than CRTs. Use digital connections such as DVI (no need for expensive cables; a major benefit of digital transmission is that a problem not large enough to turn "zeros" into "ones" has no effect whatsoever). Some monitors do not support digital connections; some video cards do not support digital connections or resolutions over 1920x1200, many do not support two Choose a Computer Monitor, and few support three. Getting these features is more a matter of looking for them than paying much of a premium, except perhaps for triple-head video cards.
    • If you have a CRT monitor, turn up the refresh rate (60 Hz or slower is badly noticeable as flicker; 70 Hz is better; 85 Hz or higher is good) and consider a glare filter. If you're choosing a CRT monitor, look for one that is vertically or entirely flat, so that its entire surface faces the same way (with respect to at least one axis) and by tilting slightly, can reflect glare from a given direction unnoticeably away from you.
    • The monitors should cover a wide enough area that you can have all of the documents you would work with at once open simultaneously, and showing enough data that you don't have to regularly click or scroll back and forth, wasting time and struggling to remember their contents.
    • Place multiple monitors side by side. The neck unbalances when tilted up and down, and the eyes do not move very far up and down on their own, so there is little to gain from stacking monitors.
    • Bezels can be distracting, particularly between multiple monitors. Choose a monitor with a narrow, unobtrusive, non-glare bezel, preferably matte black or gray. Huge monitors are more expensive per unit area than medium size ones, though. One or more 2560x1600 30 inch (76cm) monitors are great, but 1920x1200 24 inch (61cm) monitors would be a better bargain for most.
    • The higher the resolution, the better (generally). If text is too small, you can scale it up to be bigger but very sharp.
    • Covering an area wider than your forward field of view with monitors brings diminishing returns.
    • Avoid glossy monitors. They look better when turned off, but not much different when turned on, and create glare by reflecting bright lights behind the monitor.
  11. Adjust the monitors.
    • Place them toward the back of the desk to reduce too-close focusing. This will reduce eyestrain and possibly nearsightedness.
    • The most-used monitor should be directly in front of you to facilitate keeping the body straight. Others should be on one or both sides.
      • Identify the most-used monitor to the operating system as the primary monitor so items such as program menus can be placed on it automatically. If your monitors are different sizes, use the biggest one.
    • With your head straight, raise the monitors so their centers, height-wise, are roughly directly in front of your eyes or even a little above. This will prompt you not to slump.
    • Tilt them so that they are perpendicular in both axes (i.e., normal) to your field of view. Multiple monitors should be in an arc, with their centers equidistant from your head. This keeps as much of them in focus at once as possible; your eyes won't have to refocus as you glance around.
    • Match monitor illumination to ambient light. Don't work in the dark. Keep ambient light as diffused as possible and adjust its intensity to keep white objects in the room not much dimmer than white areas on the monitor – which is pretty bright. You can also adjust the monitor brightness, but with most monitors you will likely prefer to have that turned down most of the way. Match the white balance on the monitor roughly to the ambient light, generally with a setting on the monitor or in the operating system.
  12. Make your papers an extension of your monitors. Just as it's easiest to switch attention between computer documents by having them near one another across a wide monitor area, it's easiest to switch attention between paper documents and a computer by keeping the paper documents near the computer and a similar distance from your eyes. Prop a paper document up on a stand next to the computer if you'll just read from it, or on a sturdy stand in front of and tilted up toward the monitor if you'll write on it too. Make sure the stand can't bump or scrape the screen.
  13. Adjust your work environment.
    • Temperature. Keep warm. Cold numbs, stiffens and slows the fingers. Excessive heat or cold numbs, stiffens and slows the mind. 72 degrees Fahrenheit (22 degrees Celsius) is best for most people.[8] If the office is too cold, wear something that is warm and, particularly around the wrists, loose-fitting. If it is too warm, wear thin, loose clothing, and cool off with a quiet Buy a Ceiling Fan, or preferably a natural breeze.
      • Heat doesn't flow well from the heat-producing, contiguous, insulated body core to the fingers when one is just sitting at a desk, so insulating yourself with heavy clothes to conserve enough heat to keep the fingers supple in a cold environment may overheat your core (and head) a little and make you Stop Being Sleepy Throughout the Day. A sufficiently warm environment makes this trade-off unnecessary.
      • Feet don't usually need to do much at the computer, but can distract you relentlessly if they get cold. You can heat them selectively with a heated footrest, or with a heater under the desk – preferably the forced-air type so it can't set fire by radiation, and with all modern safety features – which will consume much more energy and heat the legs and torso significantly too.
    • Air quality. Keep it clean. Perhaps scented if you're good with aromatherapy.
      • Stenches, excessive dust, or other pollution will be distracting, and will have to be dealt with according to individual circumstances.
      • Carbon dioxide can build up in densely populated areas and cause lethargy and a distracting general sense of "stale air". Houses generally leak in more than enough fresh air for their limited number of occupants, but one can use a carbon dioxide meter to adjust ventilation equipment for adequate air replacement in a big building. (Too rapid air replacement wastes heating energy in winter and cooling energy in summer.)
      • Too-low humidity commonly causes dry skin and sinuses in winter. Correct it with a portable or automatic permanently-installed humidifier. Too-high humidity can, most often in summer, cause mold, leading to bad smells and illness. Air conditioning will generally correct excessive humidity: it chills the air and the condensate is drained away or evaporated outdoors. (A dehumidifier is essentially an air conditioner whose warm coils are indoors too; it's generally better to use an air conditioner and keep the cooling.)
      • Pleasant aromas can improve mood and attentiveness. For instance, citrus may increase alertness, flowers may calm and improve concentration, and forest scent may relax. You can tend to become acclimated to and not notice scents after a while. It's therefore a good idea to alternate them with scent generators on timers: buy an integrated unit, or simply plug an electric vaporizer into a timer.
    • Lighting. Darkness probably makes you sleepy. It strains your eyes to focus precisely, and your mind as, having shallow depth-of-field from dilation, a lag for focusing precedes seeing much when you shift your field of view. It may come as no surprise that dark winters can even depress you.[9].
      • Bright, even light is best. Aim for at least two 27-watt-plus compact fluorescent light bulbs (or four-foot fluorescent tubes) to light a small room; four for for a big one.
        • Incandescent bulbs require wasteful or even dangerously-hot-running wattages for this kind of light. And the color temperature is wrong.
        • Fluorescent troffers with diffusers, shop-lights inverted atop shelves to reflect off the ceiling, or multi-bulb torchieres are best.
        • You may prefer the look of a table lamp, but high-wattage compact-style fluorescent bulbs are hard to fit in them. Use a plain white synthetic fabric, namely, largely translucent, shade to diffuse the light while blocking as little as possible. A Sylvania 65W Dulux-EL bulb is particularly small for a high-wattage bulb and a 12 inch (30cm) Make a Lamp out of a Vase harp can be bent wider (at the top and back again at the bottom) to fit around it.
        • Even relatively diffuse light has "hot spots", typically the fixtures themselves or the ceiling spots above them, specular reflections (glare) from which can distract. A dark, matte desk surface is best. If yours is light or shiny, try a plastic desk pad. Look for one with a soft-looking, leather-like surface, not just a texture in a shiny surface. A visor or baseball cap keeps overhead light out of the field of view from entering the eyes directly or off the cheeks to produce subtly distracting and tiring veiling flare.[10]
        • Fluorescent lights should have "electronic" ballasts which flicker unnoticeably thousands of times per second, not "magnetic" ballasts that flicker noticeably, especially in peripheral vision, or at least annoy subconsciously. Cheap compact fluorescent bulbs and fluorescent fixtures often have the magnetic type.
      • Color temperature (tint).[11] Incandescent and "warm white" fluorescent bulbs (2800-3400 K color temperature) are orange, like early-morning and late-evening light. "Daylight" (5000-6500K) bulbs are blue-white, like noon sun and skylight. "Bright white" or "cool white" (4000 K) bulbs are in-between, common in kitchens and commercial buildings. Daylight bulbs look distinctly blue next to the other kinds, but you'll probably get used to them over time. And, because the tint suggests to the body that the time is mid-day, they Increase Alertness.[12] Bright white provides a partial benefit.
      • Balance brightness and color temperature. Bright light and blue-white high color temperature are best, but they need to go together.[13] Just as a blue sunset rather than an orange one would make the world look very strange, a daylight-type bulb's blue-white light looks odd if there isn't very much of it. Conversely, intense warm-white light looks dingy. If you find bright light distracting, or don't have enough light fixtures for the intensity needed to make daylight bulbs' light look right, use bright-white.
      • Eventually you'll need sleep, even if only a little. Constant bright, blue-white light can make you lose track of time and extend your energy past your bedtime and past your intelligence. You may not want too much of it at home. Notice the light outside if possible and glance at the clock occasionally to leave work on time and leave your home computer at a reasonable time.
        • You could put a daylight bulb on a timer to turn off on a schedule leaving a dimmer, yellower bulb behind as a gentle reminder to finish each day. There are even programs available, such as Redshift, that will automatically adjust your monitor color balance to mimic nature as the hours go by.[14]
    • Sound. Quiet is usually best. White noise is better than distinct, distracting sounds.
      • Reduce noise, including computer noises, as much as possible. For example, computers make much more noise when they are hot inside, which could indicate a build-up of dust. Also, a higher-quality fan will reduce whirring noises.
        • Keep noisy office equipment above or below you, shielded by furniture, and with noise-emitting orifices directed away if you can't move it elsewhere entirely. But don't block its vents. High-speed printers can sometimes be set to run a little slower and much quieter.
      • Earplugs or noise-blocking or canceling headphones can calm excess noise. A white-noise generator can mask more-distracting noise, but keep it near you so its volume can stay low and contribute little to the overall noise level for everyone.
      • Fast, cheerful music (try Internet radio) can help keep your mind semi-occupied rather than frustrated and pace you through simple, repetitive tasks requiring little concentration. But don't distract others: consider headphones.
    • Shift and stretch. Even with the best workspace, you'll be more comfortable if you shift about in your chair occasionally. Stretch or walk every couple of hours to relieve and redistribute pressure, stress and strain, and see and hear a few new things. Maybe even humans.


  • If you have to look attentive:
    • Recline less, but not so much that you tend to slump forward when relaxed.
    • See and be seen past your monitor (or two little monitors). If you are short, raise your seat and footrest higher. Lower your monitor so you can see and be seen over it, but not so much that you have to lean your head down into it and strain your neck to keep it from slumping further. Maintaining sufficient distance will reduce the angle by which you have to look down. Consider a desk with a beveled corner in which to arrange the computer for comfort but see people in your peripheral vision.
    • Readjust your monitor angle perpendicular to your line of sight toward its center, and your footrest angle to prop your feet slightly extended.
  • Laptops present a few options, depending on how much extra equipment you want to have at the place of use:
    • Connect an external monitor, keyboard and mouse, directly or through a docking station, to use a laptop almost exactly as a desktop.
      • A laptop as a desktop does introduce a few compromises. The fan is often loud and high-pitched compared to a desktop's fans, and the laptop often can't practically be placed on the floor to distance its noise from you. Often carpet would cover the air inlet. Laptops rarely support dual monitors or resolutions over 1920x1200 externally, or ECC RAM for improved stability in extended operation.[15]
      • Connecting accessories with radio links built into the computer such as Bluetooth, or with small wireless adapters that sit almost flush with the edges of USB ports and can be left in place, reduces the chance of dropping the computer or breaking connectors by accidentally pulling on the accessories or pushing on their plugs.
    • Elevate a laptop on a less-slippery rubber-footed stand, or, in a pinch, a more-slippery box or books to put its screen at a correct height, and connect an external keyboard and mouse to optimize everything but monitor size.
    • If you're just using a laptop by itself, try putting it in a keyboard drawer (a big one with a rim, to avoid dropping the laptop).
    • Or simply recline in a chair with it in your lap. Rest your arms on the armrests or simply in your lap. While resting your forearms on your lap or resting your palms in front of the keyboard and angling your hands up into the keyboard area isn't ideal, it's not nearly as bad with a laptop as with a regular keyboard because a laptop is typically thin and the keyboard is slightly recessed. Check that your leg isn't blocking any bottom air intake; a laptop with air intakes and exhausts on the edge rather than the bottom is best.
  • Try the Dvorak keyboard layout to reduce finger motion by assigning more-common letters under more-easily reached and pushed keys. You simply tell the operating system to "remap" (recognize different symbols for) the keys, and re-label them if you like; you don't need a new keyboard and can switch back easily. Your finger dexterity won't go away, but the new key positions will take some time to learn.
  • Lose Weight so there's less of you to support, and Build Muscle so you can support it better.
  • Wear lower-body garments, including underwear, that when you stand are loose around your waist. Sitting will tighten them as it pulls the back down and pushes the front up so they fit around you obliquely. When you sit for hours, they should still be somewhat loose and comfortable. If you relieve the pressure by slouching to widen the angle your abdomen and legs form by curving your lower back, you'll trade the gentle support of your chair and strength of a straight spine for straining a bent spine. So, instead, eliminate the pressure.
    • A garment suspended from the shoulders, like a pair of pants with suspenders or a dress, is best because it doesn't need to hold onto the waist to not fall down.
    • A garment that doesn't fit tightly around the legs, such as a loose skirt, shouldn't pull itself crooked as much. But it might tighten as you sit as some body areas push upward. Look for one just snug enough in areas that tighten little or not at all to hold it up, and loose in the areas that do constrict.
    • A garment suspended from the hips only, like pants without suspenders, can if necessary for moving about be tightened temporarily with a belt. Or it can snug itself gently with elastic or an elastic-bearing belt.
    • Compare elastic-bearing garments carefully. Look for ones with plenty of extra length in the pleated and interwoven non-stretchy cloth associated with the elastic so it stretches with tension that is not high and increases only modestly over the range it will stretch as you sit, stand, and move about.
  • Leaning back in the chair with your feet forward a little but supporting your knees pushes the chair backward. If it tends to roll away from its most comfortable position, avoid a slick plastic chair mat or even add a rug with a non-slip pad to keep it from rolling too easily.
  • Keep these principles in mind as you adjust other kinds of seats and controls, such as those on a car.
    • Sometimes there's a tradeoff between relaxation and leverage. In a power-everything, cruise-controlled car, keep your seat low and rest your heel on the floor so you need only extend rest and extend your foot periodically to stop or go. Keep your elbows rested to the sides, preferably on level armrests, and hands rested in a self-leveling fashion around the eight and four-o-clock positions on the wheel--not an unstable position near the top. You may need to offset your hands a little so the car tracks straight (or very slightly away from oncoming traffic) without constant strain if your arm rests aren't level, or something isn't entirely symmetrical. For a vehicle or driving style requiring greater or more frequent effort, you might prefer to sit up over or closer to the controls to bear down on them. No matter what's most comfortable, make sure you have enough reach and range of motion to manhandle the controls in an emergency.
  • The most expensive part of most computing systems is not anything in the computer, but the operator in front of it.[16] So, removing bottlenecks in the operator's sustained focus, clarity of thought and data-entry speed and accuracy is a great place to start efforts to improve productivity.[17] Soft armrests might save much more time in transferring data to the fingers than a fast CPU would save in shuffling it around once it's reached the keyboard.
    • Keeping the space around a computer well-lit and at proper temperature will pay for itself many times over through increased productivity.[18]
    • To save energy on climate-control of a big, mostly-empty house, choose a cool area in summer, and a warm area, space heater, or electric blanket in winter.


  • Do not disassemble your computer.
  • Do not disassemble monitor possibility (getting shocked)
  • Do not have drinks or beverages by the computer.

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