Cassiefairy – My Thrifty Life

Cassiefairy's thrifty lifestyle blog – Saving money every day with DIY crafts, sewing projets, low-cost recipes & shppping tips


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The ergonomics of working from home

If you’re a full-time freelancer like me, or someone who works just one day a week out of their home office, this is the blog post for you. That’s because I’m sharing some research I’ve done about the ergonomics of setting up a home workspace and I’m sure that it’ll help you enjoy working from home even more than you already do!

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If you’ve been making do with sitting at the kitchen table to do your work, or balancing your laptop on the arm of the sofa, or (like us bloggers occasionally admit) never even leave your bed, you won’t need me to tell you that it’s not the best way to work. You’ll ready know it yourself thanks to the numb bum, crick-in-the-neck and sore back you get at the end of the working day.

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Why don’t you have problems like this when you’re working at the office? Because most businesses have ergonomically designed desks and chairs, perfectly set up desks and monitors at just the right height. They need to provide a healthy working environment for their workers, and don’t want to have staff absences because a dodgy office chair caused spine problems for their employees.

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So the solution to having a more comfortable working environment at home is to replicate ‘the office’. I know it might seem dull (and you’ve only just got away from that bloomin’ office!) but you’re going to have to set up a proper desk, get a great office chair and stop working on that laptop. This guide below explains the best way to arrange your desk to make it ergonomically correct. And, most importantly, you’re going to have actually USE your newly arranged desk to do your work. No matter how tempting the sofa looks!

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Working pains: An ergonomic solution to using my laptop all day

Calling all bloggers, freelancers and students. In fact, anyone who works on a laptop for any length of time. I’m worried about you! As I’ve become busier and busier with my freelance writing work, I’ve found myself chained to my desk for longer periods of time. While I love my work (and don’t really want to stop at the end of the working day…) I’ve noticed one side effect of enjoying my job so much… my body is suffering.wireless-keyboard-and-mouse-pen-setting-up-an-ergonomic-desk-workspace-7My back aches from sitting hunched over my desk, my wrists and fingers hurt from all the typing, and I’ve got a crick in my neck from looking down at the laptop screen. While it’s okay to use a laptop recreationally (and if you’re traveling for business, of course) I’m pretty sure that it’s not the most ergonomically correct way to work. In fact, I know it isn’t.

You see, I went to a physiotherapist over the summer to try to sort out my neck. What I thought was pain caused by a whiplash injury, actually turned out to be something different. Okay, the accident probably didn’t help the situation and has definitely weakened my neck, but it transpires that my working environment was just as much to blame. While I could do all the stretches and exercises that the physiotherapist recommended, my neck and back weren’t going to get any better if I carried on working at a laptop. But why?wireless-keyboard-and-mouse-pen-setting-up-an-ergonomic-desk-workspace-2I’ve seen that diagram of the ‘correct desk set up’ dozens of times in my working life. I’ve been shown it as part of health and safety training in almost every job I’ve ever done. We all know that the keyboard should be slightly lower than your bent elbows, and that the screen should be at eye level. But if you’re using a laptop, that’s an impossible position to get yourself into. Either your laptop is so high up that you’re typing mid-air, or it’s so low down that your head is hanging down to see the screen. My laptop is currently somewhere in between; when I heard that the screen should be higher, I put it on a chopping board to raise it up a bit. But that made it too high for my arms and wrists. What’s a girl to do? Buy a new computer??

Maybe. But while I’ve got a perfectly functioning laptop, it would be unthrifty of me to spend money on a new computer set up. However, there IS a way to separate my laptop from the keyboard so that I can set both at the right height. How? With a wireless keyboard of course! No sooner had I realised I this, but I started searching for ways to raise up my laptop screen to the correct height and find the right keyboard for my needs.wireless-keyboard-and-mouse-pen-setting-up-an-ergonomic-desk-workspace-4

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Back to school ~ I’ve started my course

One of the many reasons why I’m so busy at the moment, is that I’ve just started a course. You may remember I mentioned it last week and that I’d said only the week before that I’m definitely NOT studying anything this year! But a course on branding caught my eye, and as an ex-marketing student, I thought it would be a great way to keep up-to-date with new developments in the world of branding and hopefully learn something new. The online world certainly keeps you on your toes, with new ways of communicating being launched almost daily, so stepping out of the world of learning for any length of time would mean being left behind – and I’m too much of a branding-techy-geek to allow that to happen – hence the course.

Cassiefairy blog Leisure learning classes 2013-14

So I signed up and during the month-long wait until the beginning of the course I starting to doubt whether this was really a good idea. How many lessons would the be? Will there be assignments? When would I even get time to do this? As I re-read the course information, I started to think that all this might be beyond me now as I’ve not studied at university level since 2010. Still, I gathered together my notebook and pens and got ready to follow the course on my tablet, but soon realised it was going to be more of a laptop-job – it was much more involved, multi-media course than I’d expected. So for the next 10 weeks I’ll need to carry my laptop with me at all times in order to keep up with the slide shows, videos, audio and articles that I need to study in order to pass the assignments.

At the moment, the laptop hardly ever leaves the house, therefore I have no bag or way of transporting it safely. That proved to be a big mistake with my last laptop when it unfortunately dropped out of the boot of the car. Okay, it was my own fault – I’d put it on the parcel shelf and had completely forgotten that it was there, until I opened the boot outside the postoffice and it thudded onto the ground. So I’ve found another necessity for this course: a laptop bag. This is turning out to be quite a costly period of study!

distressed leather laptop bag holdall and satchel from teals boutique

As you know, I love to distract myself with a bit of online window shopping and, whilst browsing for a sensible laptop bag, I came across the glamourous Teals Boutique website. I found myself drooling over the soft leather and stylish bags (I got a little distracted in the handbag section, but we all know that I don’t need a new handbag!!) and I actually preferred the men’s holdalls and laptop bags to the women’s one’s. There were more designs to choose from, with gorgeous distressed leather and delicious dark chocolate colours, plus I know that hubby will no-doubt be using the laptop bag too, so in order to be couple-friendly, I’ve veered towards the mens. I’m hoping this means that he will actually invest in it himself – I’ve sent him the link to my newly-created Teals Boutique wish list – and I’ll be able to save my pennies this month haha, we’ll see!

So far (1 day in!) the course is going well, and I’m carefully working my way through the course materials – I’ve been sat at my computer for the last 2 hours chain-drinking tea and getting to grips with the subject. I needed to force myself to browse for a laptop bag just to have a break! But I am enjoying it and I’m joining in with online discussions with fellow students; it’s great to get other people’s’ perspectives on the same articles that I’m reading. It’s definitely serving as a good refresher and I can already tell that the world of branding has greatly evolved since I last studied it – in fact, I can feel my brain growing as we speak 😉 I’m off to check out the first assessment details and will update you on my progress again soon!

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