7 tips for using a standing up desk

Interested in getting a stand up desk?

If you are used to sitting at your desk, here are 7 tips to help you get started with a standing desk.

You can download a print ready PDF of the tips

  • Choose a desk with variable height, such as a Varidesk
  • Make sure you take breaks from standing
  • Wear flat shoes
  • Shift your body position / weight
  • Will your desk be able to support both your monitors?
  • Start your work day standing up
  • It may take a while to get used to it, as with anyting new, but keep using it

Read more about the reasons to get a stand up desk here

How do you sit and code for so damn long all day, every day?

How do you sit and code for so damn long?

I feel like my wrists are going to snap off and my back/neck is deforming.

Your day goes something like this, as it does for a lot of people…

  • Wake up…
  • SIT in your car and drive to work
  • Or SIT maybe stand on public transport work
  • Get to the office and SIT down
  • Go for a coffee break and SIT down
  • SIT back down at your desk
  • Eat lunch SITTING down
  • SIT back down at your desk
  • Head home probably SITTING down
  • Get home and SIT down to watch some TV / Do more work / Eat
  • Repeat 5 day a week.

Sitting all day is harmful to your health, and you can’t fix it by exercising.

So what’s the answer if it’s not exercising?

Sounds obvious, but it’s trying to sit less…

That’s easy to say except when your paid to SIT for your day job…

What you need is a variable height stand up desk!

After years of development sitting down and enduring back pain I decided to get one.

I didn’t want to spend the money on a piece of office furniture it and it wasn’t covered by medical insurance.

My company wasn’t going to pay for it.

You might be lucky enough to work for a company that will do.

At the end of the day I decided a few hundred dollars for a standning desk versus back pain was a no brainer!

I wanted to live without the pain.

We have standing desks, the first couple of weeks were hell though.

And yes after years of sitting, to be standing at your desk, does hurt, it’s not easy.

But you do get used to it.

You stand sometimes and you sit sometimes as opposed to sitting all day.

I start the day off standing up and as the day goes by end up sitting more.

Sitting every so often, good shoes and a padded mat also make a big difference.

I find flat heeled shoes help for standing and working at the desk.

You’r standing in place, sure, but you aren’t usually as immobile as you would be if you were sitting. You shift your weight around, you’re also more inclined to walk away from your desk.

I switched to a standing desk a few months ago. Over the first month, the back pain decreased until it vanished completely.

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List of free pomodoro apps to improve your productivity as a web developer

Looking for a pomodoro app, to help keep you on task and productive?

Below is a list of different options for different OS’s

Windows

Mac

Android

Web based / online

iOS

Chrome apps:

  • Pomodo’more is a lightweight app you can add to your Chrome Browser.

You can read more about Pomodoro here: Why breaking time and tasks in to small blocks will increase your productivity as a web developer

Why breaking time and tasks in to small blocks will increase your productivity as a web developer

I’m a chronic procrastinator – how do I break it? I could be changing the world, but instead I’m putting in the bare minimum and no matter what trick or method I try I can’t seem to beat it.

Sound familiar?  You know what needs to be done, but put it off…

I always have a fear of finishing something and it’s a bit of a problem for me.  I can’t ever finish anything, because then what??

And if it’s not work to do, there’s always something else you could check… check your email, check the news, check the weather, check your social media updates. Or you could make a tea / coffee, grab a snack or see what’s going on outside….

Endless distractions and procrastination to avoid actually doing the work.  Before you know it half the day has gone and then the whole day and it’s time to stop working.

How do you bring your focus back?

A timer by your desk is a great way to approach this at work, personally I find 15-20 mins of work and 5 mins of procrastinating is a good balance.

If you haven’t heard of it before this is called the Pomodoro Technique!

  1. Pick a task to do
  2. Set a timer to work on the task (25 mins)
  3. When the time is up, stop and take a break doing something else for a set period of time (3-5 mins)
  4. Repeat the above until your task(s) are complete!
  5. After four iterations of the above, take a longer break, you’ve actually earned it!

Much like breaking a complex programming problem up into smaller chunks to fix, breaking time up into defined short periods (Pomodoros) helps you concentrate and stop procrastinating for at least 25 minutes to actually get some work done.

Depending on your work place an actual physical timer on your desk may be a good solution.  Otherwise there are a choice of websites, apps and chrome extensions to time your Pomodoros for you.

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How to stay productive when traveling and working as a Web Developer

Working remotely and traveling is a balancing act of maintaining your productivity whilst keeping up to date on your work.  Keeping your clients / customers / boss happy and continuing to earn money at the same time as enjoying your travels to new cities, countries and continents.

Traveling and unexpected delays in traveling along with possible slow or no internet connections can affect your work routine.

Although there can be distinct advantages to no internet connection for periods of time whilst actually traveling on a train or a plane.

I do some of my best writing and coding on trains.  Flights can also be nice in that, without WiFi, i’m not interrupted by client emails and calls.

If you know you won’t be connected for any reason, make sure you communicate that to any clients, so you can set their expectations that you won’t be available for a period of time.

Try to adapt as quickly as possible to any new time zone and maintain your routine, if you are a morning person, get up and get the work done first, so that you can take time off in the afternoon to explore your new surroundings.

Don’t plan to stay anywhere less than a week, you need time to sight-see, relax, do other tasks.

Here’s a useful list of other ways to stay productive whilst traveling:

  • White noise can help in a new or distracting environment.
  • Manage your time better with the Pomodoro technique to get the work done.
  • Always look for efficiencies in your doing your work, saving time will either earn you more money if you need it or earn you more free time to enjoy your surroundings.
  • Taking regular breaks and exercise reduces your stress levels and helps maintain your productivity.

How do you stay productive? please add a comment below…

How do you deal with stress as a web developer?

Life can be stressful enough, work as a web developer has it’s own unique stresses from dealing with users who don’t know what they are doing, managers who don’t know what they are managing and technology that never stands still.

At times and some days at multiple times in the day the stress can feel too much.  Sometimes you feel like you need to release the built up angst, anger and frustrations.  Venting and releasing the stress in a controlled manner is important for you and everyone around you.

There are times when you can spend hours trying to fix a bug, that can turn out to be a single character (often invisible) that’s out of place causing a bug and stress.

There are lots of options for dealing with stress, but one that is free and should be available to almost anyone, is just getting up and going for a walk.  Preferably in natural surroundings, if you are in a city, try and walk around a nearby park.

Take a break, when you are stuck go for a walk.  Disconnect from your problem, when you come back after your 10-20 minute walk, you will have a fresh perspective.  I do this all the time and it is crucial to my productivity.

It’s amazing how bugs can be solved, by just leaving the code alone, getting outside for a walk for 10-20 minutes and then when you come back, you have the fix and the stress is gone!  Often I find the fix will come to me halfway on the walk, or when I’m on my way back to the office.  When you are desperately trying to fix an urgent problem, it’s amazing how time can fly by, so stop, get up and take a break with a walk and let the solution come to you, while the stress dissipates…

Why you should keep a routine when working remotely as a freelancer

Transitioning to freelancing and working at home or at a remote location from your client can run riot over your life…

I find myself working late, and then when I get in bed my brain is still active and I cannot sleep, so I end up going to bed at 1 or 2 in the morning, which has an impact on the next day…

Being home, can feel like, well being at home! Where you normally relax, spend time with family, eat and sleep. Working at home might be something new for you.

For me it can be tough getting into a working mindset in the morning and getting out of it in the evening.

Of course you don’t have to just work at home.  There’s always libraries, cafes, co-working spaces or you could even rent an office, just like other businesses do.

Whenever I am feeling the cabin fever of working from home, I hit the library.

There can be lots of distractions, so make sure you have a regular routine for yourself, to keep your productivity up and that way you know when you are at “work”.  Turn that daily routine into a habit so that it becomes second nature.

If you’ve transitioned from a regular office job to freelance position, try keeping the same 9-5 hours you had before.

What works for me these days is I go to bed early and start early, when the clock hits 5pm I’m done for the day.

Stick to your routine, plan your days out and remember to stop working and don’t let your work overrun its routine and affect family life and your sleep. Routine sounds routine, a little boring perhaps, but that’s how you get things done, sticking to the routine, doing the work, taking a break and doing more work day in and day out.

 

How to get paid, when you work remotely from your client as a Freelance Web Developer?

If you are working remotely from your client there is a good chance you are in a different country.  Payment providers charge fees and use favorable  (for them) exchange rates and banks love to charge fees whenever they can.

There are a lot of options out there, a favorite for many is PayPal, but…

“It really hurts having PayPal take a 7% combined fee on all my earnings from the initial payment and the currency conversion.”

There is IBAN and SWIFT, but often banks charge the sender to send and for the receiver to receive the funds and use their exchange rate in the middle of money sending sandwich.

But now TransferWise is claiming to be the:

“THE CLEVER NEW WAY TO BEAT BANK FEES”

They have a nice simple calculator on their home page, so you can quickly determine the fees involved and the exchange rate without reading any fine print, check it out at: https://transferwise.com/

“TransferWise is really good, I’ve had funds in my account in under a day.”

How have you found TransferWise? Please leave your comments below.

Why you should track your time for you and your clients

My client wanted proof that I worked the amount of hours that I said I did…

What’s the best way to prove you worked for the amount of hours you said you did on what you were meant to be working on, on which day?

You are taking the time to record your time? Right?

There are lots of advantages to logging your time…

  • You can remember where the time went and review your productivity.
  • You have proof to show your client, if they do question it.
  • But you should be sharing your timesheets with your client anyway for a good transparent relationship.
  • Knowing how long something took, will help with making more accurate estimates in the future.
  • Invoicing for your time should now be super easy.

Of course you can use good old pen and paper, I’ve used notepad to track time when I was working exclusively for one client.  There’s always excel / spreadsheets.  Now though there are a lots of online time tracking apps and tools with lots more additional features and integration’s than you get with a simple spreadsheet.  All of which should increase the speed with which you can invoice clients for your time, saving you wasted time and maximizing your productivity.

Increase your concentration and productivity by beating noise with more noise!

“Working from a public space involves dealing with noise levels
that are for me, entirely counterproductive.”

Getting distracted by noise while programming?  Suffering from not being able to concentrate whilst developing and being interrupted by annoying noises?

“What about listening to a white noise app?”

You can beat that annoying noise with white noise, get focused and download a free app from Google Play called “White Noise Free” or on iTunes, or use this website Noisli.

“White noise is excellent,  I use it to drown everything else out.”