Setting up an ergonomic workspace at home or at your office where you have the most control over your environment is a lot easier than when you're travelling with your laptop and don't know where you'll wind up hunkering down for a work marathon. You already know how to set up a healthy work station with an ergonomic calculator, arrange your workspace for computing that's easy on your body, and even replace your office chair with an exercise ball to help with good posture. But what about when you're away from your home or office workstation? Mobile computing site Wi-Fi Planet offers a few tips.
First and foremost, whenever possible plug an external mouse or trackball and keyboard into your laptop.
While it isn't always practical to have an external keyboard with you, tossing a wireless mouse in your laptop bag is no sweat. For a small wireless mouse, check out the Nano cordless laser mouse.
You've heard it before but it's important: take frequent breaks. Set a timer or download some software, Hegeman says. Every 20-30 minutes you should get up and gently stretch.
It's simple advice but it's easy to forget when you're in the zone tearing through your work. Fortunately there are lots of great applications to help nudge you out the zone and remind you to be kind to your body. For Windows and Linux check out previously reviewed WorkRave which not only reminds you to take a break but has a great set of basic stretches to go with each break reminder. To help combat eye strain and repetitive stress injuries there is another handy Windows application, EyeDefender. For Mac users there are some great freeware options with AntiRSI and the more insistent Time Out.
Lenore Bryck, a massage therapist who works with clients who suffer from RSI related injuries, offers the following advice:
"The best way to check in on the way you're standing, the way you're sitting, the way you're inhabiting your body, is to check in on your breathing," she says. Is your rib cage free to expand and fall? Are your shoulders and neck relaxed so your head feels like it's floating? Do you have a natural lumbar curve? "To me, that's the main check-in point. If you do that, everything is going to fall in place."
Armed with some tips, timers, and a general sense of body awareness you can use your laptop injury free where ever you find a free hot spot to feed your surfing needs. Photo by powerbooktrance.