Leveling Up My Standing Desk

Standing Desk 2017

Last year when I upgraded my standing desk to a VariDesk and purchased new monitors I thought that I had more or less created the perfect standing desk for myself. To me, a great standing workstation allows you to stand and move around comfortably most of the time while still having the ability to easily transition into leaning or sitting positions without any compromises. The more that I worked in last year’s setup, there were a few compromises that I wanted to attempt to fix:

  1. The ergonomics were never quite right (based upon my comfort and what I’ve read on the topic). When standing the monitors were too low, when sitting they were too high. The keyboard was always too high.
  2. Often times when moving the desk up and down cords would get accidentally pinched in the desk.
  3. Every adjustable chair that I tried didn’t go high enough. Because the VariDesk is on top of my normal desk the sitting height is a few inches higher.

Each problem had a relatively simple solution once I wrestled with the pros and cons:

  1. I purchased the VariDesk dual monitor arm. At $195 the price is tough to swallow, but it is perfect for a VariDesk. I can adjust my monitors in every possible direction, allowing me to lower the keyboard position and put the monitors in the proper spot.
  2. I switched to a wireless keyboard and mouse, which I’ve never been a huge fan of, but in conjunction with some better cable management I can now move the desk up and down without fear. After trying a returning a bunch of mice, I settled on the Logitech Wireless Anywhere Mouse MX. I ended up purchasing a second one for my bag so that my travel mouse was identical. It’s not perfect, but it was the only wireless mouse I found with back/forward buttons, middle click, and hyper-scrolling that also fit my hand well and didn’t cost $100+.
  3. I bought an adjustable stool to replace my chair.

Now I can set the positions of my seat, keyboard/mouse, and monitors completely independently of one another! It takes me about 10 seconds to switch from standing to seated and vice versa. The standing desk will always probably be a work in progress but this feels like one big step closer to an ideal setup.

4 comments on Leveling Up My Standing Desk

  1. Rob says:

    Wireless mice are ok but I find them frustrating for detail work. I’ve got a bluetooth one for my laptop that has back/forward, scroll and a dpi switch. It’s almost full size so it’s not too much of a pain to work with.

    For my main computer I’ve been through tons of mice over the years, and about a year ago I think I found the one. It’s a “Utechsmart Venus” mouse. Designed for mmo games originally, it’s wired, crazy high DPI and you can vary the weight.
    The killer feature is that it has (wait for it…) 18 buttons plus a scroll wheel! All can be programmed, but realistically you’d probably want left/right, dpi up/down and a profile switch set (oh yeah, it has 5 user profiles, which can be saved on the mouse so transfer to any computer) so that leaves 13 programmable buttons (per mode).

    The 12 side buttons are really great for simulating keyboard shortcuts, autohotkey scripts etc. I have a general mode on the mouse with windows & chrome keyboard shortcuts bound, a Photoshop mode on the mouse with shortcuts to specific menus and tools, an MS word profile etc. etc.

    By the way, what are the blue cable guide things called? I want some. I remember seeing them a few years back but my google-fu seems to be weak as I’m not able to find where to buy them.

    • Adam McFarland says:

      That mouse is insane! I could see how the 18 buttons could make you more productive, especially for someone who does a lot of photo editing like you.

      Unfortunately the cable managers aren’t available anymore. They’re called Nesl, here’s the Kickstarter page https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/birdhouse/nesl Mike’s younger brother was part of the team that created them. They fulfilled the Kickstarter orders but never got off the ground after that, they had some licensing deals but as far as I know they all fell through. It’s a shame because they work great, I would buy a bunch more if I could. I’m sure there are good alternatives out there but I haven’t really looked.

  2. Rob says:

    Hi,

    I’m redoing my office at the moment and it’s time for a new desk.

    What made you choose the varidesk over other options? Ikea has a couple of desks where the whole thing raises and lowers, one electrical and one by hand, any thoughts on those?

    • Adam McFarland says:

      Hey Rob,

      If I were to do it all over again I’d get one of the Ikea ones or something similar. I thought the Varidesk would be simpler and cheaper, and I liked the idea of not needing to replace my entire desk. It’s really turned out to be neither – I’ve spent a ton of time and money to get it to where it is now, and it takes up way too much space for what it does since it doesn’t go straight up and down but up and out (if that makes sense, watch one of their videos to see what I mean). I’m also not a fan of the keyboard tray, the mouse doesn’t quite have enough space. I like that the Ikea ones are just a large flat surface. I feel like you can’t go wrong there, especially for the price.

      – Adam

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