Earlier this year, after reading yet another article about how bad sitting all day is for one, I tried again to set up a standing desk for myself. This time, I succeeded. 

My standing desk

The desk I built follows the plan of The Standesk 2200, which I discovered via Lifehacker. It’s just a couple of Ikea tables on top of my existing desk, with a shelf attached for the keyboard. I need to get a wider shelf that can hold not only the keyboard but also my mouse/drawing pad, and in the meantime the mouse pad is on a pile of boxes. (Fancy!)

Its greatest advantage is probably that it cost so little to put together, even though I double-sized it. I’d like to replace the table I’m using for it with a black desk, also from Ikea, so the whole thing will look more like a single unit and less hodgepodge. But on the whole it’s fine as is.

Transitioning to standing all day wasn’t as hard as I expected, perhaps because by the time I built this I’d been walking more and strengthening my legs in other ways. But my feet hurt more than I would have expected.

Then I bought some thick exercise floor mats to stand on.

Mat under my standing desk

These were the key to my success, I think. They cost more than the desk itself, but since I started using them I haven’t had any of the foot or back strain.

I can’t tell if my switching to a standing desk is improving my lifespan, of course, but I do find that I think clearly while standing. Some activities seem to be better sitting: brainstorming, sketching, that kind of thing. But other work is well-suited to standing.

If you’re considering a standing desk, an inexpensive solution like this one that converts an existing desk — and that’s easy to revert if you find you can’t stand it (hah!) — is worth trying. Let me know if you try it!

6 replies on “Stand up”

  1. I know this is an old-ish post now, but I hope you’ll see this anyway.

    First, desk looks great. I saw the Standdesk 2200 and thought it looked great, and – may favorite- didn’t cost $800. This is embarassing but I’ve had my keyboard stacked on a hodgepodge of office supplies for (gasp) nearly a year now, waiting for something perfect.

    My question: How tall are you? I saw on the life desk site that lowering the shelf all the way was the right height for the 5’10 author, but I’m not 5’10. I’m barely 5’5. So I just wanted to make sure I could lower this enough. Obviously this has something to do with the height of the original “killer” sitting desk, but I assume most regular desks are roughly the same height.

    Thanks!

  2. Hi Audrey. I’m 5’9″, and I have the shelf all the way down so the bracket touches the table below. I do stand on about an inch of foam cushion, which lifts me up a little.

    I can imagine that standing on 5 inches of step or cushion would not be a great option for you, because even though it would get you to the right eye level it would feel precarious.

    You would need to get both the shelf and the screen lower to work for you. So maybe if you could find a slightly shorter alternative to the LACK table, and a shelf bracket that was not itself so tall, then you’d be in better shape.

    For what it’s worth, I spent months with the keyboard on boxes and office supplies too, just because I was too lazy to properly affix the shelf brackets to the table legs.

  3. Hey Cynthia,
    Thanks for this post! I’m looking to convert my desk into a standing one, but have been hesitant to try Lifehacker’s Ikea desk only because of my drawing/pen tablet. Were you ever able to find a larger shelf to hold yours? Any information or updates on how your desk is going would be very much appreciated! THANKS!!!

  4. Hi Lauren. If I’d attached a shelf to the second table, it would have worked great with the tablet. Being lazy, I switched the tablet to my right hand (I’m right handed anyway) and put both the tablet and the keyboard on the shelf. They fit fine — the shelf is surprisingly deep.

    But I didn’t like all the wires extending from the tablet across the desk to where the outlets and such are. I brought the tablet to my other office and set up a wireless touchpad instead.

    For this standing desk, it looks best if you take the time to tuck and affix the various cables and wires to the undersides of surfaces, so you have clear tabletops and not so many wires making a nest all around.

    It’s still working out great. I’m not at that location today, but I’ll post a new photo soon.

    Good luck with yours!

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