Laptops are great. Portable, useful, practical.
But because the keyboard is right next to the screen, laptops pose a big old challenge. If you have your hands at a good level and your arms parallel to the floor, then you have to look down to see the screen. When we look down, we tend to drop the head forward from the base of the neck and compress the chest, literally shoving our heads and faces closer to the screen down below. We might add in a shoulder raise for good measure, collapse the rib cage and go into a full slump. Bring on neck and shoulder pain, headaches, lethargy, loss of focus and even RSI. Maybe laptops aren’t so great after all.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Here are my top tips for beating the laptop slump.
- Get a separate keyboard and use your laptop as a screen only, positioned at eye level. Yes I know that can defeat the object of a laptop, but you can organize that set up at your primary workspace at least. That way you are helping yourself to be in a better state for more of the time.
- Get your arse organized. The bottom end of your spine is the support for the top end. So sit on your sit bones. If you aren’t sure how to do this, sign up for my free e-course (link to) and I’ll walk you through it.
- Drop the tunnel vision. Here’s how. Hold your hands up either sides of your head, palms facing forwards. Wiggle your fingers and move your hands backwards so they gradually disappear from view. You’ve just activated your peripheral vision. We are such visually dominant creatures that in many people, simply making that change is enough to reorganise their posture out of slump and into sitting upright. Try it and see what works for you.
- Look down your nose at the screen. Once you are out of a slump, you still need to look down to see the screen. But you don’t need to move your head closer to the screen to achieve this. You’re trying to see it, not smell it. First, look out level with the horizon. Next, move your eyes only to look down at the screen. Then adjust your head by the minimum you need to see comfortably. You’ll probably feel like you’re a King or Queen, looking down your nose at your screen. That’s what we want, good work.
- Speccy? If you wear glasses, let them know who’s boss. Often we have poor postural habits because we are organising our whole bodies to allow us to see through our glasses. But your glasses are not in charge. You are. Position your glasses after you position yourself.
Bonus tip: Oh, we love to sit at our computers. Hours and hours and hours. Then more hours. This is madness. Which is the machine, you or the computer? In case you’ve been at your computer so long you’re now not sure, the answer is that your computer is the machine. It likes to do the same thing for hours and hours and hours. You, on the other hand, are not designed for hours of sitting. You’re designed to get up and move about. So do it. Set a timer. 30 minutes max. Stand up, stretch, shake your booty, drink some water, have a pee. Join me on Twitter @SarahChatwin #groovynotgloomy for a daily tune to dance about to. Then you can get back to it.
These are the quick-fix tips you can try, and I hope they help you. But you may have postural habits that make it hard for you to get these ideas to work. If you carry a lot of tension in your legs, then sitting on your sit bones is tough. If you habitually put your head forward from the base of the neck, it will feel very strange to change that. If that’s true for you, or if you have any other problems, then get in touch. I teach in person in central London or internationally via Skype, so I can help you further if that’s what you need.