standing is hard!

I’m a faithful reader of Lifehacker, and a great deal of their content tends to come from the perspective of the home office of the freelance worker or telecommuter. Most of the workspace photos are of home offices, and I frequently find myself drooling over the elegant and clean custom setups. Meanwhile, I work in a cubicle that can be only slightly modified, and I simply don’t have the budget to really do up my home work space for the contractor work I do at Blogcritics/Technorati.

That being said, I’ve been thinking off and on about trying to do a standing desk setup at home, just for a change of pace and to off-set the sedentary aspect of my daily work. But again, I keep running into the issue of cost for anything fancy, so I’ve been putting it off. However, last night I was particularly frustrated with the prospect of spending a few more hours sitting at my desk at home after a full day of doing the same at work, so I decided to improvise.

I used a plastic drawer bin that I use to store random office supplies (pens, pencils, staples, batteries, etc.) to elevate my monitor high enough, so that was simple. And, since the monitor can be tilted down (and isn’t too high) it’s easy to switch it back to something comfortable enough for sitting at.

The keyboard and mouse solution was a bit more complicated. I didn’t want anything permanent, since I knew I’d want to be able to switch back and forth between sitting and standing until I built up my standing stamina. In the end, I borrowed a bookshelf from one of my IKEA bookcases (stacked the DVDs that were on it — will probably pick up another shelf for long-term use out of the as-is area the next time I’m up there) and elevated it by resting it on top of my comic book short box. The box is just long enough to stabilize the longer bookshelf, but light enough (and with handles) to move it around as needed.

Satisfied with my handiwork, I set to clearing out my task list. However, after only a few minutes of standing, I began to realize just how little I stand on a day-to-day basis. So far, I’ve only been able to stand for 20-30 minutes at a time, and am generally uncomfortable the whole time. But, hey, if this means I’m exercising those muscles while still working at a computer, I consider it a win-win.

tweaking my workflow

Over the past year, I’ve become a Lifehacker fanatic. I read the site regularly, and sometimes I even use it as a reward for finishing some unpleasant task. While I don’t do every lifehack suggested or install every app suggested, I have been making incremental changes in the way I approach things. Here are a few:

  • Earlier this year, I used HabitForge to get into a routine of going to bed by 11pm and getting up at 6am, which I’ve mostly continued to do. I’ve not done so well at the other routine of eating breakfast at home, but that is partially due to not being dilligent about having breakfast items on hand (i.e. I’ve been out of milk for almost a week now and I still haven’t remembered to pick up some when I had the chance).
  • Numerous ideas of how to process/manage email and tasks have led to my current system that is a hybrid of flags and search filters in Outlook, and the daily planning that defines my dayjob workflow.
  • I have a growing collection of DIY gift ideas for next Christmas, should my family decide to go the “make it yourself” gift route again. I’ll be better prepared this time.

I’m certain there are more things I could point out, but all I can remember right now are the relatively new ones. Everything else has either fallen away or has become so integrated that I don’t remember why or when I started doing it.

One more thing: I’m regularly inspired to clean my physical desktop when I see yet another need and cleverly organized featured workspace.

pay off that debt!

Lifehacker turned me on to the Federal Reserve Bank Credit Card Repayment Calculator today. If you haven’t already, do take a look. With just a few keystrokes, you can find out how long it will take to pay off your consumer debt, how much interest you will pay over that time period, and what your monthly payments should be to do so. You can tweak the numbers by changing the monthly payment or changing the pay-off time.

I was able to get a personal loan earlier this year that allowed me to free up some of my budget and pay off most of my consumer debt in 36 months, but it wasn’t enough to cover everything. The balance on my remaining credit card is rather steep, and I was beginning to wonder if I’d ever pay it off, but now I know that if I keep plugging away at the monthly payment I’ve been sending, I’ll have it paid off in a little over a year. Whew!

where I spend my time online

While I was at the reference desk this quiet afternoon, I attempted to catch up on scanning through Lifehacker. Their article about the Geek Chart app caught my eye. Microblogging, or at the very least, in the moment stream of consciousness sharing, has taken over a good portion of my online presence, leaving this venue for slightly more substantial (and infrequent) commentary. So, I decided to fill out the details needed to build my Geek Chart.


Anna’s Geek Chart

Looks like those of you who want a more regular dose of Anna will need to be following my Twitter and Flickr feeds (with some Delicious thrown in). For the rest of you, enjoy the lighter load on your feed reader.

thing 14: Technorati

The first thing I got out of this assignment was the final push I needed to subscribe to Lifehacker, rather than continue to rely on the biblioblogosphere to filter out the “important” stuff from it. The next step, of course, will be reading it frequently enough to keep from getting overwhelmed and behind. Unfortunately, I’m already 14 entries behind on Zen Habits, so overwhelmed and behind is a distinct possibility.

I haven’t really found much use for Technorati. It’s handy to have for doing ego searches (i.e. who’s linking to me), but beyond that, I have so many sources of information that this is one more that I don’t need. However, if you’re looking for what’s hot or interesting in blogs, it’s a good place to start.