I was talking with a student during her lesson the other day. She was lamenting the fact that she often noticed herself slumped forward toward her computer. She wanted to know how to stop herself from doing that.
I started by asking her a bunch of questions about her office setup. Turns out she had an adjustable-height desk.
“Great!” I said.
My standard follow-up question when I find out that a student has an adjustable-height desk is:
“How easy is it to adjust?”
All she had to do was push a button and it went up and down. She could stop it anywhere along the way.
“Fantastic!” I replied.
My next question was:
“So, how often do you push the button and adjust the desk during a typical day?”
“Probably once during the day,” she said.
“I get absorbed in my work and I forget that I can push the button,” she sheepishly explained.
And this is the crux of the problem.
You can have the most wonderful equipment in the world, an office outfitted to allow you to work in a myriad of different positions and to move throughout your workday. But none of it matters if you don’t choose to change your behavior.
And that requires you to think about it.
The way we habitually work is our auto-pilot, our normal. If that has been sitting in your chair in one position for an hour or two, completely focused on your work you will continue to do that even if you have a great new adjustable-height desk….
….UNLESS you think about it.
You have new equipment. That’s only step one.
Now you need to work on creating a new habit of working, a new normal.
Creating a new habit doesn’t just happen because you want it to.
You have to think about it.
In my student’s case, she needed to figure out how to remember to push the button more often.
A week later she came in again and I asked her how it was going.
She was pushing it maybe four times a day whereas before she was pushing it once a day.
Even more interesting, she had sent a memo out to her office mates to join her in challenging themselves to all push the button more often (turns out they all had adjustable height desks).
Recruiting others who want to work on making similar changes in their life is a great way to help you establish new habits. If you have ever tried to start exercising more, having a friend that you agree to meet and walk with every day at lunch can really help.
It’s called accountability.
I couldn’t help thinking how the challenge my student sent to her officemates was similar to the challenges some of my friends have with their co-workers to see how many steps they can take. They all have fit bits that track their steps. And they are so competitive! My one friend mentions it almost every time we meet.
Getting the great new adjustable desk is just the first step. And the easiest step.
Creating the new habit to push the button more often is the real change that needs to take place. And to be totally honest, is the hardest step.
You have to think about it.
Simple, not necessarily easy.
But worth it.
Your body and your posture will thank you for it.
Image: Sergey Nivens/Shutterstock