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Getting the Most from Your Work Environment to Get the Most from You

Getting the Most from Your Work Environment to Get the Most from You

At the end of the day, are you tired? Is your back sore? Eyes strained?

To work effectively and efficiently, you have to control many factors in your work area: the computer (including its peripherals), your chair, lighting, noise, temperature, and yourself. So let’s break them down one at a time.

The Computer:
Your screen (CRT, monitor, etc.) should be at a height that’s level with, or slightly lower than, your face. If you have to tilt your head upward at all, the tension in the neck and upper back region will soon become painful. And the pain could become serious and chronic if you use a computer daily for long periods of time. Also, consider these additional solutions:

Your mouse should be placed in a position so that it’s easy to reach. There should be enough room to maneuver that little rodent without having to lean one way or another.

Your keyboard must be positioned so that your wrists will be straight when typing. Your elbows should be bent at a 90 degree angle. This must be coordinated with the positioning of your chair.

The Chair:
A chair is not a chair is not a chair. Here are some pointers on properly positioning your chair.

This can be a bear, as you most often will have to work with what’s available. Fluorescent lighting is best, if available. Lighting should be over your shoulder and above your head, but not directly behind you. And never have a light source originating from behind your screen.

Changing available lighting isn’t always practical whether at work or at home, but there are some solutions. You can change the position of your screen slightly (tilt and/or swivel), filter the light source, add a dimmer switch or add a secondary light source. Indirect lighting is best, where the light is bounced off a reflector and onto your screen. Eclipse (and others, I’m sure) makes such a light that is small, affordable and effective.

For many, this is considered to be a nuisance more than a problem. It includes any type of sound (voices, machinery, music, etc.). Studies have shown that the right type of noise can be helpful, while the wrong type can be distracting and even outright dangerous. Music should not be so low that you have to strain to hear it nor so high that it demands your attention. It’s better to use classical, easy listening or pop rather than heavy metal, punk rock, etc.; however, this is really individual preference and is more closely attuned to what you’re used to hearing.

Although we each have our own comfort zone, you shouldn’t work in a temperature that’s so warm that you perspire with little effort in a short period of time. If anything, you should feel slightly cool, but not cold. Also, there shouldn’t be any direct air currents, particularly around your face, not so much from a health standpoint, but it can be distracting.

This is the most critical, since you usually have more control here than with any other variable. So…

If you take the time to adjust your work environment, you’ll gain time by working more efficiently. And you will have a clearer sense of purpose and a focused determination that will cut through all the grind of today’s cluttered life styles.

— Steve Henthorn is a Public Health Administrator, Publisher, and Editor-in-Chief of SPHERE Publishing House. He publishes Computer Corner(tm) and is the host of a weekly radio show by the same name.