Notebook tips

Healthy use of a notebook


This well known image is confronting: We haven't quite grasped it! A builder who begins in his trade learns how to lift things in a responsible way. But oddly enough someone who works with a computer is expected to know how to sit behind it in the least aggravating way. Generally we do not know much about this at all. And even if we do, we don't tend to put it into practice. Use the following tips to prevent injuries and lessen aggravation whilst working on the computer:

Learn to sit in the correct way.

Use your speed keys rather than your mouse.

Using the mouse often can lead to injuries. Especially when you have limited space to work. If you use the speed keys you don't have to use your mouse that often; a combination of keys then replaces a number of mouse actions. Click here for an extensive list of speed keys.

Rest your arms whenever you're not using the mouse.

It's often a habit to keep your hand on the mouse when you're not using it, for example when reading a document . Just rest your arms on your lab so blood can flow to your hands.

Learn how to type.

Positioning your hands in unnatural ways and needlessly hammering away on the key board seriously aggravates your arms and fingers. This needless aggravation can be prevented by learning how to type. For only 25 Euros you can get a typing course on CD ROM.

Find a mouse that suits you.

No hand is the same and working styles vary even more. That's why so far many types of computer mice have been developed for different aims as well as for different people. A pen mouse may offer less aggravation for one person whereas the other prefers to use a trackball.

Get your breaks.

Of course you want to make your deadline, and you're just getting into your work and feeling really inspired, but above all your blood needs to keep flowing. That is why it's important to get your breaks:

  • take a micro break of twenty seconds every ten minutes (put your hands in your lab and look into the distance )
  • take a small break, a couple of minutes, every half an hour
  • take a ten-minute break after two hours working on the computer
  • take at least one half an hour break a day without interruption
  • don't spend any longer than 6 hours a day behind your screen

On laptops you shouldn't spend: any longer than 2 hours working.

Use break software (WorkRave on Image)

There's computer programmes that remind you to take a break. Some of these do it in a gentle way, whereas other programmes completely shut down your system. The latter being the most efficient way to stop workaholics.

Install your own settings

Your computer or the programmes you use, often have short-cuts to improve the computer's ease of use. You can for example install the letter type and size of your browser (programme to view web pages)yourself, so you decide the size of the letters. This prevents you from having to bend over to your screen in order to read text easily.

Organise a good set up of your work space.

Chairs, desks, keyboards, computer mice, computer screens, temperatures and lighting are factors that all need to be considered and adjusted to personal need otherwise these may cause health complaints.

Work variety

A variety in tasks takes down work pressure, and it also means you won't be spending the whole day working behind your computer.

Difficult tasks can be challenging, but when someone does demanding work only, the pressure can become too much. Someone who performs some lighter tasks alternately, will increase work output and generally work in a more relaxed way. Relaxation lowers the chance to get RSI. Furthermore: more task variety increases the chance for the employee to literally spring into action more often.

Pain is a sign you shouldn't ignore.

Pain is a sign from the body to indicate something isn't right. Ignoring pain and continuing the way that causes pain, can lead to more pain, injuries, or even disease. Many people have learned from a young age to ignore pain, because pain is considered a sign of weakness. But why would you tolerate pain, (but ignore it) if eliminating the cause means being rid of the pain?

How does pain arise:


Don't stay at your desk for too long a period. Exercise stimulates blood circulation necessary to distribute new blood to the blood vessels in your fingertips and lower arm tendons and to remove waste. Put the printer somewhere out of reach so you'll have to get up to pick up your printouts, use the stairs to the cantine, go for a walk during your lunch break, get out of your chair and redo your shoe laces.

Drink plenty of liquids.

Healthy adults should drink at least two litres of water a day, even more if possible, especially when staying in air conditioned spaces. Water is needed to rid the body of waste and helps cleansing the kidneys and the bladder this way. Water deficiency can upset the body's temperature regulation, you'll tire more easily, your reactive powers diminish, and you'll find it harder to concentrate. A water deficiency equalling about 10% of your body weight lowers your blood quantity, which causes the blood to thicken. Thick blood slows down the circulation and your cells will receive less oxygen and nutrients. You may get cramps and muscles might cool down.

Be sociable and have a chat with your colleagues

Leaning back and relaxing in your office chair is a welcoming change for your body from sitting straight up (if you're following the instructions) behind you screen. Our body was not build to sit still for long periods of time in unnatural positions. You're being even more sociable when you get up to go and have a chat with your colleagues. And while you're at it, go and get a drink. See tip 13.

Take responsibility for your own health.

Usually we know what we need, but at work we're not used to taking responsibility for our health. We wait until we get permission from the person in charge before obtaining the aids we need. Don't wait for permission from someone else, but make your own arrangements. Buy the mouse that you need and bring your home office chair into work.