The café office…the backpack laptop…the beachfront deadline…Being a digital nomad certainly has it’s perks. The lifestyle choice to abandon a permanent work location in favor of a geographically liberated mobile workstation is rapidly gaining popularity.
Despite the freedom, however, being a digital nomad is not without it’s challenges. As a physio, the one that concerns me most is the harmful ergonomics of poor laptop positioning.
Spending large chunks of time hunched over a laptop is known to be a massive risk for neck, back and wrist pain, but it doesn’t have to be. By adding some simple pieces of kit to your mobile work station, you can live the digital nomad dream AND maintain a healthy body too.
This is the ‘Fast Five’ checklist that I use to get my laptop ready for my daily hustle.
Get the screen up
Repeat after me: “The top of the screen should be level with my eyes”. I use a portable laptop raiser to lift the screen up to a position where my head does not have to tip forward. My neck says ‘thank you’ to me every day.
Keyboard meet elbows
Funnily enough when I put my laptop on a raiser, I can no longer comfortably reach the keyboard. Luckily, bluetooth keyboards are inexpensive and very portable, and I have one permanently in my kit.
The keyboard should sit at the level of my elbows, so sometimes I need to add an extra cushion to my chair to raise myself up.
Mouse meet wrist
Digital life is a lot of ‘click click and scroll’, so of course a Bluetooth mouse or touchpad is a must. I make sure that the mouse is close enough to me that I am not reaching or slumping forward to use it. I tend to pull my chair in nice and close to the table to achieve this.
Feet meet floor
To stabilize my position it is important that my feet comfortably touch the floor. If I do all of the above steps and my feet are no longer touching the floor (I know, I know, I’m short), I will find a phone book to put under my feet.
My physio background tells me that my lower back is happiest with an inwards curve or hollow, so I make sure I sit up nice and straight in the chair. Sometimes I add a rolled up towel to my lower back for extra support.
I know that the longer I am going to be spending on my laptop, the more essential the ergonomic set up is. For any more than 1 to 2 hours, in a day, it is a must. In addition, I make sure that I stand up for 5 minutes for every hour of constant laptop use.
Less pain, means more productivity, which means more spare time to explore. What’s not to love? Go get ‘em fearless Digital Nomad.