Ergonomics Made Easy Blog

Resources and solutions for people in pain that could use help with ergonomic products. Ping blog

3 Ergonomic Tips for Laptop Users

Thursday September 11, 2014

Tips for Laptops

Laptops are all the rage, which is no surprise.  "I'd love a computer tied to my desktop," said no one ever.  We all want the fancy bells and whistles that seem to make our lives easier, more efficient and effective.  And that's what laptops do- we take 'em everywhere with us and work from anywhere.  I mention all this to say that while we have left our PC's in the past, we still need to remember the same ergonomic principles, or at the least tailor our habits to better ergonomic practices.
  • Try an ergonomic keyboard.  Laptop keyboards can be small and definitely not as comfortable as a full-sized keyboard.  Keys can be omitted or put in weird spaces just to make the fit.  A common problem is hand cramping and quite honestly irritation during use.  Thus, bad habits form quickly.  The hands tense up and poor wrist positioning can lead to aches and pains, as well as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. An ergonomic keyboard is larger and encourages good hand positioning, which reduces chances of stress injuries.
  • Raise your laptop to avoid eye strain.  Since laptop screens are often smaller than desktop monitors, it's important to at least elevate them so that you're not squinting to see the screen.  You can use a monitor lift to get your screen to eye level with a PC, but that's not terribly practical for laptop use.  An option here is to set the laptop on a raised surface and possibly incorporate the above mentioned ergo keyboard.  Also, be sure to take breaks and to blink often to keep your eyes hydrated.
  • Try an ergonomic mouse.  Nothing is more maddening than getting used to a new mouse, especially one that is built into the keypad.  What's more, hand cramping comes back to plague you.  An ergonomic mouse is the size and shape you're used to, can be added for temporary use at any time, and helps you use your hands and wrists in positions that won't injure you.  

It's essential to take steps to avoid eye strain and repetitive stress injuries while computing from the comfort of your own lap.

Posted in carpal tunnel syndrome , ergonomic keyboards , ergonomic mouse , eyestrain , hand pain , repetitive strain injury (RSI) , Uncategorized | Make a Comment

3 Ergonomic Tips Every Parent Should Know

Thursday September 4, 2014

Usually we provide ergonomic tips or resources for desk workers on how to protect themselves from common work-related strain and injuries.  Today is dedicated to parents.  While not all parents work out of the home, many of us do work from home, and we all know that we work all day.  (Can I get an amen?)  All that to say parents are hard workers and need to take care of themselves while on the job, too.  

3 Ergonomic Tips

  • Protect Your Shoulders.  How many times do you reach around from the front seat to retrieve and hand back a dropped sippy cup or toy?  This may be great fun for your toddler, but it's no good for your rotator cuff.  Unless you're looking for surgery in the not too distant future, stop doing this immediately.  Your kids will only take a few days to learn that they can easily pick up their own dropped items when they get out of the car.  Or, if you have a rock star older kid like I do, make her the picker upper at stops.
  • Protect Your Back.  There is not one move every parent does that puts out our backs.  It's all the little twists and turns we do every day that add up: bending over for toys, babies on hips, growing children climbing on for piggy back rides, etc.  All those moves take a toll on our backs, so do your best to minimize twisting or jarring.  As they say, lift with the legs, not the back.
  • Protect Your Eyes.  Whether you're working from home like I do, checking emails, or just teaching your kids how to use the computer, even screen time for Mom adds up.  Be sure to take care of your eyes by taking breaks from staring at the screen, blinking your eyes frequently, and keeping your screen lifted to eye level.  This higher position is better for your eyes and neck.

Being a mom or dad is very physical.  When we have children, we're all in, and that includes our bodies.  Three main things to protect: shoulders, back, and eyes.  It's simple, but so, so important.  After all, staying healthy is part of making parenting fun.

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3 Ergonomic Tips

Wednesday August 27, 2014

Ergonomic Hacks for Bankers

Banks are every day necessities.  We need them, and they need us.  But not all banks are equal.    Some serve their employees and customers better than others.  Here are three things that will help any bank have happier, healthier, and more protected transactions.

  1. Monitor shields.  Monitor shields keep the sun from rendering the screen useless.  This is great for counter-acting windows and glaring overhead lights.  Additionally, monitor shields protect the user from nosy neighbors.  Whether people mean to or not, we simply can't help ourselves from straining to see other people's business.  A shield allows the user (the person sitting right in front of the screen) to see what's there, but not from other angles.  Thus, the user and his/her information is protected.  Plus, when necessary, the screen is easily and quickly removable.  
  2. Monitor lifts.  Not as .007 essential, these devices lift the monitor for better viewing for short, average, and tall employees.  Screens are sort of a one-size-fits-all purchase, but lifts allow for adjustment for fewer neck aches and pains.  What's more, keeping the screen raised keeps your eyes healthier.  Eye strain is a common problem for computer workers, and it only worsens when looking down at a screen for too long.
  3. Sound masking.  An individual sound machine allows a single banker to ignore business around him and focus on the task or conversation at hand.  A sound masking system is farther-reaching and achieves speech privacy for all involved.  Both employees and customers are protected from being overheard.  Be it for the bank itself, or the customer, speech privacy cannot be over-rated.  That's why every aspect of leaks needs to be considered- not just the digital ones.

Taking care of employees and customers is important.  Everyone needs to walk away happy their experience.

Posted in comfort , ergonomics , sound masking , Uncategorized | Make a Comment

4 Tips for a Better Ergonomic Work Station

Sunday July 27, 2014

More and more people are struggling with work-related stress, strain, or even injury.  This may be due to computer-related jobs in which workers need to sit most of the day, staring at a screen, and repetitively typing all day.  What you may not know is that even a desk job can be improved with a few minor, and some more major, changes to your work habits and station.

Ergonomic Work Station Set-Up Principles

  • You may think neck aches and pains are part and parcel to a desk job, but thankfully, that’s not the case!  A monitor set too low, such as just on your desk top, causes you to strain your neck and your eyes to see it.  A monitor lift literally raises your screen to eye level and about 20 inches from your torso, which keeps you in good ergonomic health.

  • Sore backs are a common complaint.  Two options here: an adjustable ergonomic chair which allows you maximum adjustment and comfort.  The second option is to check your current chair to see if it’s adjustable and actually adjust it  {the height, back support, and arm rests}!   The end goal is three-fold: your feet should rest flat on the floor, your back should be well-supported , and your arms should be able to slope slightly downward to reach your keyboard without cocking your wrists.

  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a common office injury and be easily avoided by practicing good wrist positioning.  A wrist rest is poorly named as its actual intent is to rest the palms of your hands in between periods of typing, with the result of protecting your wrists from awkward angles.

  • Ergonomic keyboards are known to offer better hand positioning and comfort and are also especially helpful as an add-on to your docked lap top.  They are much more comfortable for long periods of typing and can be moved closer to the body while your screen is elevated.

As you can see, just making some simple changes to your own movements can help decrease strain.  As for the ergonomic products, prioritize the one or two products that apply to your own weak points.  Keeping your muscles, joints, mind, and overall body in good health is worth a little change!


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Tips for Boosting Productivity: Part 1

Thursday January 26, 2012

Tips for Productivity

I love being productive and getting things done, whether at home or for work.  I thrive on being efficient and staying on top of things before they get out of control.  However, as much as I naturally love efficiency and productivity, I still have those days {or weeks} in which I just can't find my groove...or stay in it longer than half an hour.  I felt this way as a teacher and I feel it now as a stay-at-home, work-from-home mom of three.  I am often conflicted with how to divide my time between work and parenting, which is why being as efficient as possible is crucial for staying sane and keeping all the balls in the air.

Thus, I have come up with 3 steps for boosting productivity that I think are somewhat obvious, but still quite helpful.

Step 1: Getting rid of distractions

Distractions are a real time suck, as their name implies.  Whether it's noisy co-workers, neighbors, or even your own children {like my daughter asking me right now if I'm choosing to ignore her?}, these distractions interrupt our train of thought and therefore stifle creative thought as we struggle to wrangle our minds back into gear.

So, for those of you who work from home, I can’t emphasize how important it is to set up good boundaries for actually getting work done at home so you still have a place to work and place to relax at home.   For work, it's important to have a good home officewhite noise, and general organization.

Once you've protected yourself as much as possible from distraction, you have to discipline yourself to use your time well.  What do you do if you are fresh out of ideas?  Or if you have a great one but can't develop it due to other commitments?  This is where step 2 comes in to play.

Step 2: Getting rid of writer’s (worker’s) block

So, here are few tips for breaking the barrier when you’re staring at a blank screen:
  • Sit and think for 10 minutes.  Seriously, before you give yourself (another) break, try to come up with a starting point.  It’s not that I don’t value breaks- in fact I have a lot due to the nature of my work day and kids.  However, I think it’s easy to procrastinate by allowing yourself too many.
  • Make a list of things that need to get done and start doing them- it may be that you have a break-through as you make the list or start checking things off.  Sometimes, the feeling of accomplishment is enough to get your mind going.
  • If you’re writing, do a google search and see what others have written.  Sometimes this is good fodder for a new idea or a response to someone else’s.  I find that I write best {i.e. not plagiarize} if I read an article and then close it, whether I agree with it or not.
  • Since I do work from home and also have small children still at home, I don’t work 9-5.  So, I have a couple hours a couple times a day.  I push it hard while I have the peace and quiet to do it, then when I’m on with the kids, I keep a pad and paper by me so I can jot down any ideas that come to mind.  That way, I’m not working while the kids are around and I also don’t lose an idea.
  • Take breaks.  See, I do value breaks.  I just think they need to be earned.
  • Frequently, I work on an idea in the back of my head…maybe it’s a real life experience, maybe it’s not, but either way, I find that my best ideas come when I am not technically working.  I usually mull them over in the back of my mind as I wash dishes {we live in the UK- no dishwasher, so there’s lots of that} or pick up toys or even play with the kids.  Then, I either work on it the next chance I get, or I at least write it down so I don’t forget.
If you're struggling to be productive, rework your work space for minimal distractions, then discipline yourself to actually work.  Be sure to check back next time for Part 2!

Posted in children , productivity , sound machines , Uncategorized , white noise , working from home | Make a Comment