This GradHacker post is a Guest Post by Fayana Richards. Fayana is a graduate student in the Department of Anthropology at Michigan State University. Find her on Twitter @FayanaR

It was the summer before my first year of graduate school and I was in search of the perfect work area. After searching online for hours, I settled on a do-it-yourself assembly office kit complete with a desk, bookshelf and drawer. It took three days of reading confusing manual directions and a sore back from hovering over hundreds of little pieces before my project was complete. I was proud and convinced that I had constructed the perfect study area; but, I never used it. Instead, I spent the next year hopping around several local cafes, restaurants and libraries.  My take away from this experience was that there was no such thing as a perfect study area for me because I liked variety. If I am in one place for too long, I get distracted and start checking text messages every 5 minutes.

After following a recommendation from a friend, I decided to try working standing up. A quick Internet search yielded a number of nifty standing desks. However, I wanted to test out the concept before I made any purchases.

Area of choice? My kitchen counter. The assignment? A final term paper.

I walked my laptop and journal articles over the kitchen counter and proceeded to write.

Not only was I able to write my final paper in half the time, I was more alert and focused on the task at hand. Also, my posture greatly benefited from having to stand erect for an extended period of time. I was sold. While I don’t think the standing up technique will be my only writing approach, I definitely see myself utilizing it often.

Tips for the Standing Up Technique


Switch it up

Depending on the nature of the task at hand, you may choose to stand for half the time and sit for the rest. I find that this interrupts my concentration; so, I usually assign tasks in two-hour blocks of time, for which I am comfortable standing.

Wear comfortable shoes.

Standing in one place can become uncomfortable for many people. Unfortunately for me, I don’t have arches, which makes standing up for any extended amount of time particularly bothersome.  As a result, I purchased shoe insoles that have cut down the discomfort from standing in the same place.

Do you have any other productivity methods that you use? Post them in the comments below!

[Image by Flickr user Dean+Barb and used under Creative Commons License]



6 Responses to Standing Up Technique

  1. Katy Meyers says:

    I’ve actually found that sitting on an exercise ball not only helps with my posture, but when I start losing focus I can bounce around on the ball for a bit.

  2. Cory Owen says:

    I’ve never tried this method, but it sounds intriguing! No room to judge though–I wrote most of my master’s thesis in a cigar bar, so I’m a fan of unconventional ways of studying!

  3. Intriguing. I stand up when I work on art, why not when I write? I think I’ll try some of my game dev work this fall standing, if we are in CAS 246 again.

  4. Stephanie Hilliard says:

    I have to agree. I bought a standing desk at work some years ago. I don’t use it as often as I should (sitting is the lazy way) but it is does make a nice change of pace and helps keep me from getting stiff and sore.

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