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Take care of your designer self.

When you think of careers that are hard on one’s body, you might think “construction worker” “ballerina” or “sumo wrestler”. You certainly don’t think “designer”. All we do is sit and move our hands around. Day in. Day out. No big deal, right?

Reality check: sitting is really bad for you.

Forbes even says so.
As does NPR.

Eek.

Do I also need to point out all the craning forward to stare into a screen all day, moving that darn mouse back and forth and generally ignoring your body’s needs while you whip up the world’s next greatest logo, brochure or band poster? Now, do I think that your designer tendencies are a death wish? No. But I do believe that our day-to-day habits shape our health, so…

I’ve compiled some tips gleaned from my time in the field:

Get cracking. I started getting regular chiropractic adjustments when my back was bothering me a year or so ago. It’s made a world of difference. Once I paired them with massage, the trouble spot under my shoulder blade was finally wrangled into submission. Whew. If you can’t afford massage, try a foam roller or a Theracane to address points of tension.

Speaking of trouble spots, at one point I started wearing a wrist brace because of the constant pain I was experiencing in my right wrist. Turns out all that detailed vector work with the pen tool had finally caught up with me. At the time, I was bewildered. What in the world was I supposed to do to make it through the next 30 years of my design career? Learn to work with my left hand? Simply direct the mouse with my eyes? I think not. Fortunately, a friend who worked for Wacom recommended I try a tablet. I promptly bought the Intuos and within three days was designing brace-free. Miraculous, no? (I even pack that sucker along when I travel now because it makes that big of a difference.) Throw $400 at Wacom. You won’t regret it.

Sit tall. Hello, expensive office chairs. I scored big time and got my Herman Miller Mirra chair from an agency I worked for when it went bankrupt. Before that I was on a vintage wooden chair my parents had salvaged from a trash pile years ago. Shabby chic, yes. Comfy, no. For some, a stability ball or standing desk might do the trick.

Eyeball it. Models call their faces their money-makers. For designers, it’s our eyes. Hit up the local optometrist, invest in a large monitor and don’t forget to give those money-making orbs a break. See next tip.

Dig out the egg timer. Try the Pomodoro Technique. Bundle tasks into 25 minute increments (sayonara multi-tasking!), each followed by a 5 minute break. Interestingly enough, this frequency is about the same as what my chiropractor recommends for standing up to stretch. Hm.

Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention exercise. Duh. Get out and move. (If you really want your butt kicked, try Insanity. It’s the opposite of what us designers do all day.

Oh yeah, and water. Chug it.


8.20.12 // Topics: Tips for designers

Comments (2)

  • August 20, 2012 at 2:05 pm |

    As soon as I went independent I modified my desk at the home office to a stand-up desk. My Pomodoro method is when an album is over in iTunes :) I purposely take a 5 min break outside the office. That where the good ideas happen anyway :) Great post!

    • megan
      August 20, 2012 at 2:58 pm |

      Thanks, Clint. I like your freestyle Pomodoro!

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