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Golden Rule of Ergonomics #1

Say it with me. "Objects do not move me, I MOVE THEM."

You might be thinking, "....duh, Liz."


But I guarantee that the next time you pick up your phone, you are going to end up collapsing into a hunch with a strained neck, like this:


Don't @ me, it's true.


A phone, like any other small object, is light. We hold it in our hand, which is attached to our arm, which is designed to wave and lift and move things around.


So how come, when we use our phones, we don't move them TO US? Why do we crane our entire bodies to look down at them instead?


I think part of it is a lack of spacial awareness, and part of it is that we're SO used to adapting our bodies to external forces that it doesn't even occur to us that we could be doing something differently.


Here's an experiment


#1 Sit or stand up tall, with your weight evenly distributed on your feet (if standing) or on your sit bones (if sitting). Allow your head and neck to move easily. Let your shoulders slide down your back and your arms to rest at your sides. Look up and around at the space around you.


#2 Now, without reaching for it, just look at your phone. Imagine, for a moment, that it's not a phone - just a random object. There's no screen or anything particular to hold or see.


#3 Notice again how you're sitting/standing. Can you reach with your fingers to pick up the phone and bring it towards you while still being relaxed and tall?


#4 Your eyes are designed to look around. With this in mind, can you hold the phone (it doesn't matter how) and observe it while still enjoying your height and poise? What's that like?


Next time you reach for an object, especially your phone, consider this:


Am I bringing this into my space, or am I adapting myself to this object?


This is my #1 Golden Rule of Ergonomics because much of the time, simply changing how we approach an object can fix a whole host of discomforts - for free!


The same thing applies when people ask me, "What's ONE thing I can do to improve my desk setup?" I refer them to this rule with simple instructions:

Go to your desk.

Sit in a tall, easy manner.

Let your arms rest in your lap and look lightly around the room.

Now, what can you use while still enjoying this sense of easy, relaxed poise? If you can't reach something without compromising, move it so that it facilitates YOUR body, instead of the other way around.


This is the single easiest and cheapest way to improve your setup, no matter what you're doing.


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