Here’s something I am coming to realize about myself: when it comes to how I work, I am far too resistant to change.
Here’s what I mean. You may be able to relate …
I get set in a certain way of performing tasks — a certain manner, a certain order, a certain position or style — and I get tunnel version. My way works, at least to a minimum level, so why pay attention to possible methods that might work better? This is how my thinking (or occasional lack thereof) seems to work.
So when the opportunity to participate in something called an “ergonomic challenge” came across my inbox, I almost didn’t even look twice. My chair is fine, thanks. (Even though it’s not.)
Fortunately, I did look twice.
Because a week into said ergonomic challenge (which, yes, I am participating in) I am finding that my old way of working was far from optimal.
What is an “ergonomic challenge”?
You may now be wondering this, like I was. The answer is simple:
Goldtouch (a company that makes ergonomic products) is challenging people to try out an ergonomic product like a mouse, keyboard, wrist rest, chair, or desk for 30 days in January 2015. That’s it. Just try it out. Then share the experience.
A friend of mine was invited. He passed the details along to me. And on a whim, I said “Sure!”
Full disclosure: the promise of receiving a free product to try out sealed the deal. If participating had required any investment at all on my part, I’d have moved right along … without having any idea about what I’d be missing.
Because, again, I’m far too resistant to changing anything about the way that I work. And yes, it’s a dearth of humility I’m not proud of.
But there was one particular product that caught my eye when I checked out the Goldtouch website, and it piqued my interest in the challenge: the laptop stand.
Why I decided to take the challenge
I’ve noticed recently that when I work long hours from home on my laptop, the near-constant staring downward puts a strain on my neck. And as I quickly lose spring chicken status with my 33rd birthday now almost a half year in the rearview, the fear of neck and back pain as I age becomes more acute.
Using a monitor helps to alleviate the neck strain, which is why I brought one home from the office to try. Unfortunately, my current desk is not big enough to accommodate a monitor. Plus, I use my laptop a lot to record video, so constantly shuffling my work station around was a hassle.
The laptop stand appeared to be the perfect solution: it would raise my screen up to reduce the neck strain, and I could still use my laptop camera when I’m doing Google Hangouts.
I would, however, need a keyboard to make this work. You can’t really type on your laptop keyboard when it’s tilted 30 degrees and lifted six inches off the desk.
Fortunately, one of the packages Goldtouch was offering to send challenge participants was a laptop stand and keyboard bundle.
Perfect. I’m in. I’ll take the challenge.
Here’s how it’s gone so far …
Love at first sight (and setup) with my new laptop stand
It’s been about a week now, and I could not be happier with the laptop stand.
Not only was it easy to set up (thanks to the intuitive design and simple instructions), it is providing exactly the benefits I was hoping for: a light-years more comfortable work experience. This is important considering how much I sit and stare at my laptop (like I’m doing right now).
Here is what my far-more-comfortable view looks like:
And as an added benefit, the stand is lightweight and folds up to allow for travel. Thus, I don’t have to go back to hunching over my laptop when I’m on the road.
So the laptop stand proved to be a big winner from the moment it arrived. I started recommending it to everyone.
The keyboard though? Well, not so much. At least not at first.
A rocky start to my relationship with the keyboard
I hate switching keyboards. There have to be many others out there who feel similarly.
Once I get a comfort level with a certain keyboard, and I can get up to my usual million-words-per-minute (approximation) typing speed, I am averse to anything that slows me down.
Well, the Goldtouch keyboard did exactly that. It slowed me down. The spacing is different. For example, the Ctrl-C and Ctrl-V commands (pretty important commands) required an awkward finger alignment I wasn’t used to. Plus, the arrow keys are smaller and placed closer together than what I had become comfortable with. Among other gripes.
As for even trying the main ergonomic feature that allows you to invert the two sides of the keyboard (it is split in the middle) at varying angles? Well, I wasn’t really interested in anything else that might disrupt my typing flow.
Frankly, I’d have ditched the keyboard after the first 30 minutes if I had any alternative. But I needed an external keyboard to use the laptop stand.
But before you take any of this as a diss on the keyboard, remember what I said above about my resistance to work-station change. 😉
As the last few days have passed, I’ve slowly grown more comfortable with the keyboard. Not to the point of thinking I’d keep it, but the keyboard and I had at least reached an uneasy agreement to simply tolerate each other during the course of the challenge.
Then a funny thing happened …
As I sat down to write this post, I realized that I should probably at least look into the ergonomic feature of the keyboard. I hadn’t even tried tilting the sides down to see what it felt like to, you know, use the keyboard as it was intended.
I figured I owed Goldtouch at least that much, to at least try it, before I came here and said I didn’t like the keyboard. They had sent it to me for free, after all.
I figured I’d hate it tilted. I figured it would be much worse. I figured I’d be basically hunting and pecking for keys and would get fed up within seventeen seconds.
Ah, foolish pride. Always thinking I know.
Guess what? It’s much, much better to use when tilted. (Shocking, right?)
One of my biggest problems using the keyboard flat against the desk was that my left and right hand kept bumping into each other when I’d have to type T, G, B, Y, H, and N. You’ll notice those are the keys that go down the middle of the keyboard, where it’s split. It was like my hands were having turf wars, with neither one wanting to cede control of the disputed land.
With the keyboard split, however, there is no more fuss. My left hand naturally and comfortably takes T, G, and B, while the right hand takes Y, H, N when it’s their turn. Even the Ctrl-C/Ctrl-V transition is easier.
If only I’d done this a week ago. I would have saved myself a lot of hassle and frustration.
See what I mean about needing more humility when it comes to potential workplace improvements? I think I have all the answers, and it turns out I’m just wasting time being less efficient and effective than necessary.
As for the ergonomic benefits of using the keyboard this way, those I can’t honestly vouch for. I can’t say I have experienced any immediate alleviation of discomfort, as I have with my neck. But Goldtouch has built their company around these keyboards providing supreme ergonomic value, and I’m willing to trust them.
Even if the keyboards aren’t as ergonomically beneficial as claimed, they sure do provide convenience. The keyboards fold up into a neat little square that, like the laptop stand, make them perfect for travel. With the stand, the keyboard, and my laptop, I can now take my comfortable and ergonomically-improved work station with me anywhere. That works for me.
Why should you take the challenge? (Answer: free stuff!)
Now the big news: as part of the ergonomic challenge, I actually received two laptop stands/keyboard bundles. One was to try for myself and write about. The other one I get to send, for free, to one reader. Sweet, huh?
Since I love and appreciate you all, and could not possibly choose a winner, I will simply choose at random.
All you have to do is comment on this post and tell me why you would benefit from the laptop stand, keyboard, or both. Or you can ask a question. That qualifies you too. (I will only choose one winner, and that person will receive the bundle, but it’s okay if your comment or question focuses on just one of the items.)
And while you don’t have to do this, I would definitely appreciate it if you would share this post, either on Twitter or Facebook, with the hashtag #Ergo30. (And if you share it on Twitter, include the handle @Goldtouch.)
It was really nice of them to send me these items to try out — they’re high quality, so they aren’t cheap — so I’d like to make sure Goldtouch benefits and gets plenty of people checking the laptop stand and keyboard out. I’m sure the products aren’t right for everybody, but then again I’d have said they weren’t right for me before giving them a try. Now I cannot imagine going to back to my pre-laptop stand days, and I grow more fond of the keyboard with every paragraph.
Sometimes you just have to swallow your pride and try something new. It just may work better. I sure am glad I did.
I can’t wait to send someone the bundle. You have until next Wednesday, then I’ll choose.
Thanks for reading. See you in the comment section!