When you think of today’s business world what images come to mind? There’s the classic Dilbert look of a maze of fabric covered walls. Inside each of the cubes is a person sitting at a desk. Then we fixed this by creating an open concept to offices. We tore down the cubicles and in some cases gave people portable desks so they can organize into teams. There’s still one thing missing though!  

At Agile 2013 Linda Rising talked to us about one significant problem we still have. It’s the thing you’re sitting on … your chair. We spend way too much time sitting! I’ve been thinking about how much sitting I do both at work and at home and it’s astonishing! When I’m working for a client my standing life is really dictated by the type of work I’m doing. With some clients their whole environment is designed around sitting down. What impact is this having?

At the most extreme Linda asked her audience for the longest someone has spent sitting working on a single problem.  Without breaks, without standing, without going for food.  The most extreme person in the room was 10 hours (there’s been worse according to Linda).

The problem with sitting so much is it stifles thinking and kills your energy levels. Not to mention it’s making us fat!  Check out juststand.org … according to their calculator I could burn an extra 2800 calories per week if I simply stood up while working.

Have you ever worked on a problem for a long period of time only to feel stumped? Then when you leave it and return you suddenly find the answer? I’ve been in this position way too many times! It’s likely happening because you sit there too long.

Some strategies to consider to increase energy levels, productivity levels and burn some extra calories:

  • Stand up – there are desks out there (or attachments) which allow you to easily switch from sitting to standing. So start sitting, when you’re feeling stifled stand up. Then when you’re tired of standing sit down again.  Keep doing this cycle
  • Go for a walk – there are many famous examples of walking being a thinking habit of famous people. Steve Jobs would take you for a walk if you/he had an idea to work through. Einstein would ride his bike. Linda Rising has her husband walk with her (apparently he’s a good listener)
  • Set a timer – check out the pomodoro technique. You need to find your own rhythm but I work for 20 minutes then take a 5 minute break. The important thing during the 5 minutes is to get up and do something different. For me it might just be a quick walk around the building.
  • Use the power pose — stand up, feet about shoulder width apart. Arms stretched straight up and forming a ‘V’ (like an athlete who is celebrating victory). Hold this pose for 2 minutes. They’ve studied this scientifically and apparently this pose causes all kinds of good stuff to happen in your body.
  • Lie down – Linda had a few ideas I’m not sure I’d try at a client site. Lying down is supposed to be really good for recharging us. Put a treadmill at your desk (really … and apparently there are desks designed on a treadmill).

Regardless of how you approach it … just stand up! We spend too much time sitting and inside sterile corporate environments. Get out regularly and be a part of this beautiful world we live in!  At the very least refuse to be  brought down by this environment and Stand up!

If I’m at a conference and see Linda Rising is talking … you can be sure to find me in her audience.  She’s one of my favourite speakers!  She’s done some cool talks in areas such as sleep, caffeine, etc. I highly recommend her!

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