Being able to work anywhere is handy, but it can also cause pain in your body. Put yourself in a better position and avoid muscle strain with these pointers:
- Find a posture in which you can keep your wrists straight (neutral, in line with your forearms), your shoulders relaxed and your back supported, and in which you feel comfortable
- Align the laptop centrally with your body – don’t twist round to use it
- Take frequent breaks from working on the laptop, and get up and stretch and walk around, at least once an hour and more frequently if possible. Download free software from www.workrave.org\download\. This software prompts you to take regular breaks from the screen
- Change your posture often, whenever it becomes even slightly uncomfortable; don’t stay in one position for more than 15 minutes.
- Rest your eyes frequently by looking at something far away or by closing them, for a minute or two
- Remember to blink more, to prevent your eyes feeling dry
- Take whatever software training you can because the more skilled you are with the programs you use, the less time you will need to spend on the laptop
- Do not support the laptop on your lap (because of the heat), or purchase a laptop cooler pad available from most large computer suppliers
- Make sure the laptop is supported and stable and will not wobble or slide as you work
- Adjust the laptop screen angle (and height if possible) to reduce stretching your neck and to minimize glare on the screen
- If possible, if using the laptop for long periods, attach an external full-size keyboard and an external mouse. Roll up key boards and lap top stands are small and portable and can be obtained from most computer suppliers
- Think before you use the laptop – try to cut down intensive usage because the more you use it, the more likely you are to develop problems
- If you are sharing the laptop, like in a teaching session, try to move the laptop round to face each person in turn, rather than each stretch to reach and see it
Additional tips for using your laptop in various locations include:
- At Home – the top of the screen should be at eye level and about an arm’s length away with the keyboard right in front of you so your wrists are fairly straight. Elevate the screen with risers and books and invest in a separate keyboard and mouse.
- In a Coffee Shop – Place your laptop on an upward slope like a three-ring binder, which raises the screen but you can still type by keeping your wrists straight.
- On an Airplane – Alternate between setting your laptop on the tray table and in your lap every 15 minutes to reduce stress.