How to Use a Standing Desk (Properly)

Good morning! I hope you all had a nice weekend.  If you had off on Friday, I hope you got to enjoy some extra time doing something fun for yourself or with family and friends.   Today’s topic: how to use a standing desk.

Since Monday morning means back to work for a lot of people, I figured I would share some tips on how to properly use a standing desk.  If you don’t have one, read on to consider some of the things you may need if you purchase one.  I never really thought about any of these things until I got a standing desk at work.  I learned the hard way that just standing and typing is not enough – you have to take some precautions to protect your joints and get the most out of your new office toy.  Now that I have one, I love it! Sine mine is electric, I put it up and down throughout the day.  I find that I’m really focused when I’m standing!

Thinking of getting a standing desk? Try Beyond the Office Door.  They’re a Wisconsin company who makes their desks in the U.S.  They have electric and adjustable stand up desks.  If you like to buy things off Amazon, try this Varidesk for another adjustable option.

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how to use a standing desk

Gather Your Tools:

  • Make sure you have comfortable shoes in the office and wear them any time you use your stand-up desk.  You should not stand in heels or anything that lacks support for your feet.  You will definitely regret it later…

  • Grab a anti-fatigue mat to stand on while you use your desk.  This is the one that I use and it works great.  I didn’t use this mat at first and I realized that my legs and feet felt a little achy and stiff as the day went on.  It’s been much better since I started using this mat.

Don’t Stand All Day:

When I first got a stand up desk, I thought you were supposed to stand all day.  As an attorney, I can spend 8-10 hours in front of a computer a day.  That’s just too much time to be on your feet all day.  After coming home very sore each day for the first 2 weeks, I did a little research and found out that you weren’t supposed to stand all day.  Whoops!

There’s no one-size-fits-all rule for how long you should stand vs. sit vs. walk around.  I had to experiment and find my balance.  What really helped me to find that balance was this standing desk timer by Beyond the Office Door.  It is a browser-based standing desk timer that allows you to set “sit” and “stand” intervals at whatever pace you want.  On most days, I like 30 minutes standing, 30 minutes sitting.  For days where I’m working on one big project (i.e. a brief or a motion), I stretch out the intervals a little longer (i.e., 1 hour) so that I can focus for longer periods of time.

Alignment & Adjustment:

  • Have your elbows at a 90-degree angle so that your forearms rest comfortably on the desk.
  • Roll your shoulders down and away from your ears.
  • Stand up straight – to check your alignment, use the yoga practice of pretending you have a string tied from the top of your head to the ceiling.  It’s a great mental trick that gets you to stand up straight.
  • If you’re still having trouble with spine alignment throughout the day, do a 30-60 second elbow plank on the floor.
  • Check your monitor to make sure your neck is not craned to look up or down to look at your monitor.

Mix It Up:

  • If you followed my healthy office tips, you will already be getting up to go to the bathroom more often since you’re drinking water.  Surprisingly, standing does not circulate as much blood as I originally thought and your body still requires various types of movement throughout the day to keep things moving.  Get up and away from your desk as much as possible.
  • Roll out your shoulders, ankles, and arms whenever you can throughout the day.  Shake out your legs from time to time.
  • When using your standing desk, shift weight from one leg to the other every once in a while.  Try not to lock your knees, either.

If you don’t have a standing desk, try to use a surface that mimics a standing desk or find a box or large monitor stand to “build” your own.  Many of these tips apply to both “real” and make-shift standing desks, as well as just general movement tips for the office.

Have you ever tried a standing desk? Do you feel any difference in your body after having used one?  Do you see a difference in your work style?


There are affiliate links in this post.  Thank you for supporting Barrister’s Beet.  This post is not sponsored and is solely opinion based.



  1. great tips! I would love a standing desk- it’s something I’ve been looking into.

    • Sam March 31, 2016

      You should do it!! You work from home often, right? And it would be great for all your blog writing : ) Let me know if you want to hear about the one I have. It’s electric… boogie woogie woogie

  2. These are all great tips! i’ve been toying with the idea of getting a stand desk for a while now. I’ll have to come back and read this post if/when i do!

    • Sam March 31, 2016

      Thanks, Heather! And thanks SO much for reading! I’ve been reading your blog for YEARS. You should get one after you guys move! I think it really increases my productivity, which is always needed ; )

  3. I’d love a standing desk. One partner at my law firm has one, but it isn’t something associates can request…

    • Sam March 31, 2016

      Aw, man! That sucks. At my old firm, I used to use the counter of the secretary’s desks to review documents as a make-shift standing desk. Do you have something like that you could use? So cool that you’re an attorney/blogger, too! There can’t be too many of us : )

  4. Sydney @ Bird Bites Blog April 16, 2016

    Great Tips! I love my standing desk!


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