If you’re considering enrolling in online high school, you’ll likely be spending a lot more time online than usual. An ergonomic work area can help you avoid the eye strain, back pain and muscle fatigue that’s often associated with working in front of a computer.
The best workstation is one that fits your body’s proportions, supports your arms and allows you to sit comfortably upright in your chair. Following are some tips for ensuring your work area is comfortable.
1. Add an external monitor. Students who are accustomed to using laptops may find that connecting them to a separate monitor allows for a more comfortable sitting position. If you use a laptop as it’s intended — on your lap — you’re often forced to look downward to see the screen. But if you can connect your laptop to a monitor, you can position the monitor at eye level, which reduces strain on the neck and shoulders.
2. Add an external keyboard. An alternative to using an external monitor is putting a laptop stand on your desk — this device holds the laptop screen at eye level, but to use it, you have to connect a keyboard you can easily reach.
3. Place your monitor at arm’s length. A monitor that’s too close or too far away may cause eye strain.
4. Check the size of your desk and chair. When seated, your knees should bend at a 90-degree angle. If your feet dangle, or if your knees are bent at greater than 90 degrees, the chair is the wrong size for you. Your elbow should also bend at 90 degrees when you’re typing — if you have to reach upward to type, even slightly, either the chair is too low, or the desk is too high.
5. Use a wrist rest. The armrests of your chair should support your forearms while typing, but sometimes, the hard edge of a desk or table puts pressure on wrists. Wrist rests reduce pressure on wrists and can be moved easily to different work areas.
6. Sit upright. Slouching, leaning forward, or leaning sideways in your chair can hurt your back. Be mindful of your posture when sitting, keeping your back firmly against the chair back and feet flat on the floor — when your feet are flat, you’re less able to contort into a position that could injure your back.
Before your next class or semester begins, take a few minutes to make sure your work area works for you.