When we bid farewell to winter and warmly welcome spring, we use it as an opportunity to clean our homes for the new season – it creates the sense of a fresh start when the flowers start blooming.
But it’s not just your home that can benefit from a good cleaning – if you work the average 40-hour week, or more, you spend a lot of your life at your desk. A healthy dose of spring cleaning in your office can give you a renewed sense of productivity and can set you up for healthier days at work.
Reorganize for your vision
When you’re organizing the surface of your desk, including your computer screen in the cleanup can benefit your vision.
“Staring at a screen for eight or more hours a day isn’t easy on your eyes,” said Jennifer Hanson, DO, internal medicine physician at Geisinger Moosic. “Adjusting the display settings on your monitor can help reduce eye strain and fatigue.”
Adjust the brightness of the display to match the brightness of your workstation. If you find yourself frequently squinting, increasing font size and contrast can relieve this.
“If you’re regularly looking back and forth between your computer screen and a printed page, this can also cause eye strain. Ease the strain on your eyes by placing a copy stand next to your computer screen to hold up the printed pages you’re working with,” Dr. Hanson said.
Where your monitor sits on your desk is also important to your vision – it shouldn’t be too close or too far away. Ideally, your computer screen should be about 20 to 24 inches away from your eyes.
Spruce up your desk posture
Adjusting your posture at your desk is one of the easiest ways to lead a healthier work life.
“Just like your display settings, your vision can surprisingly be impacted by your posture – improper posture while working on a computer can lead to eye strain and fatigue,” Dr. Hanson said.
Protect your vision and the positioning of your head and neck by adjusting the height of your chair to position the center of your screen to about 10 to 15 degrees below your eyes.
Sitting for eight or more hours a day isn’t ideal – consider investing in a standing desk or swapping your chair out for an exercise ball to prevent you from hunching in a chair all day.
However, if you’re restricted by your company’s standard one-size-for-all rolling chair, take the time during your spring cleaning to make sure it’s set up for you.
“When you’re seated in your desk chair, your feet should be flat on the floor, your elbows should be around the same height as your desk and the back height should be adjusted to support you,” Dr. Hanson said.
Clean out your snack drawer
If you have a snack drawer designed to hold you over between meals, take a look at what you’ve stashed – if it consists of candy, chips or sugary breakfast treats, you may doing more harm than good at snack time.
“Make over your snack drawer with dry roasted nuts, healthy protein bars, whole grain crackers, natural peanut butter, an apple and a banana – these snacks will provide you with essential nutrients to help you power through your work day without suffering from a sugar crash,” Dr. Hanson said.
If you don’t keep a few snacks in your desk in case a hunger pang interrupts your work day, considering stocking a few healthy items just in case – they could help you avoid those office donuts and less-than-healthy snacks your coworkers occasionally bring in.
A few other things you can change at your desk to benefit your health include:
- Setting a timer on your computer or phone to remind you to get up and move every 30 minutes to an hour.
- Bring in a reusable water bottle to refill throughout the day to stay hydrated.
- Store a pack of antibacterial wipes in a drawer and disinfect your keyboard, phone, mouse and more frequently to reduce the chance of catching cold or flu-causing germs.
- Get a plant – studies have found workplaces with green foliage tend to have lower rates of stress and sick leave.