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4 ways to instantly detox your desk

How long do you spend sitting at your desk every day?

It’s probably more than you think. In fact, according to the British Psychological Society, the average office worker spends 5 hours and 41 minutes per day at their desk. Once you add in sitting time at home, and while commuting, the average UK worker clock up 9 hours a day of sitting.

When you’re spending that much of your day sitting at work, your desk space matters. Try these 4 simple tips for improving your workspace, instantly.

The 10-second test


Whether you’re a toothbrush or a tidal wave, your physical desk space makes a huge difference. That doesn’t just mean filing old paperwork, organising your stationery or keeping a plant to personalise your space.

So, right now, at your desk, take this 10-second test: can you comfortably place both feet on the floor, without changing how you usually sit to work? Now, when you look at your screen with your head resting naturally on your shoulders (not turned to one side, or tilted up or down), does that match your usual working position? Are you comfortable right now?

If not, you need to make some changes. The Health and Safety Executive have issued clear guidance and regulations for employers and employees on how to set up your desk, chair and equipment. It might sound minor, but an unadjusted chair or wrongly-positioned screen can cause permanent health problems.

Trigger that break

Cat stretching

Did you know that sitting all day impacts on your mental health too? Long periods of inactivity and sedentary behaviour may be linked to depression, psychological distress and reduced wellbeing.

Stepping away from your desk for a break from screentime and slouching can be hard to stick to without a regular cue. Fitness tracker users can set a regular alarm to remind them to get moving after a period of inactivity, but there are plenty of free apps that can help you take control.

Try the simple interface of Office Wellbeing, which features two reminders: one for eye strain encouraging you to look away, and a second for a proper break. Windows users can download Big Stretch Reminder, which uses fully customisable pop-ups to help you.

Stock up on snacks

Bag of almonds

If your office is groaning under the weight of endless cakes and biscuits, you’re not alone. Good news: brains run on glucose, and they need topping up to stay fuelled and alert. You’re there all day,  and you’re entitled to a few snacks to keep you going.

Make sure you’re getting plenty of good nutrition alongside regular treats with a ready supply of goodies of your own. Choose things that you enjoy that also come packed with nutrients: almonds, apples and peanut butter, dried fruit or yogurt. Keep them in your drawer, so there’s always something handy when you feel yourself flagging.

Get a magic in-tray

Desk with paper, pen and keyboard

What do you do with anything new that arrives on your desk? When you’re in the middle of one project, where does the one for tomorrow end up?

For a lot of people, their entire desk is a perpetual in-tray. Graham Allcott, author of How to be a Productivity Ninja, suggests a blissfully simple solution. Use a physical in-tray, or better yet a desk drawer to manage every new item. That way the only work documents on your desk that day are the ones you need that day, and you can stay on-task and clutter-free. To keep track, use coloured tabs or a folder with date dividers so you can easily find the next day’s projects.

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