How to Set Up a Standing Desk (and Why)

Today’s post is a little different. I’m switching from the online world for a minute to show you how, and why, you should set up a standing desk.

A what?! – Says you.

Well, the idea of a standing desk is quite simple – it’s just a desk that you’re standing by, instead of sitting at.

At first, this doesn’t sound right at all, so let me address some of the FAQs right away:

Is a standing desk suitable for long-hour work?


But before you dismiss the whole idea, think whether it’s really a flaw… Chances are that if you need a working environment where you can spend long hours, you need to find a different job.

Working long hours was never healthy. Nor profitable. Nor productive.

The truth is that you gain maximum productivity when you work in short spans of time, divided by frequent breaks. Not when you sit 12h+ in front of a computer and pretend to work.

Is it possible to sit down if you feel like it?


You just need to use a different kind of chair. One that’s taller than a standard office chair. (More on that later.)

If you’re doing something more passive in nature, like reading an article or checking your website’s stats, you can sit down for a while. But when it comes to standard active work I advise you to create a new habit of standing. So treat your chair as an addition to the whole setup, not as an integral part of it.

Is it more expensive than a normal desk?


Actually, it’s cheaper, and I’m going to show you why in a minute.

Is it difficult to get it and set it up?

One word: IKEA.

Why having a standing desk improves your productivity

The reason is very simple. When you’re standing you tend to get your work done faster. You don’t want to be standing 3 hours by your desk like an idiot procrastinating on stuff, right?

There’s no time to go on Facebook or watch a quick YouTube video when you’re standing. All common distractions like this simply cease to exist, they no longer make sense.

Now the big issue. If you’ve been working 8 or even 10+ hours until now, you may think that you simply won’t be able to get the same amount of work done in less time.

I can’t promise what the outcome will be in your case, but for me, switching to a standing desk enabled me to get my work done much faster and also have more free time.

How to organize your time

The method I use focuses on having short periods of intense work, divided by a number of breaks.

Here’s what I do:

  • Work for 50 minutes.
  • Have a 10 minute break.
  • Work for 50 minutes.
  • Have a 30 minute break.
  • Repeat the process.

I use a stopwatch to make sure that I follow the above guidelines exactly. For me, it works more than great.

I hope that by now you’re at least interested in the whole idea, so let’s get down to business and teach you how to build a standing desk.

How to build a standing desk

I wouldn’t advise you to buy a standing desk just like that. It will be ultra expensive for no apparent reason. Building one yourself is a lot better solution.

Here’s my current desk, made from stuff found at Ikea:


and the top part:


Final cost … around $110 (your mileage may vary depending on your location; I do my shopping in Poland).

What I did there is an “Ikea hack,” so to speak. I simply bought some standard elements and combined them into a standing desk.

Here’s an exact step-by-step guide:

1. Get two EXPEDIT Shelving units

Link ($39.99 x2):

There are different colors available, so you’re sure to find something that fits your home office.


2. Get one VIKA AMON Table top

The exact table top you should get depends on how big you want to make your workspace.

Here are some possibilities:

3. Get one LACK Wall shelf

This is where you put your screens ($14.99):

4. Get one set of CAPITA Legs

This is what you use to mount the table top on the EXPEDIT Shelving units. Get the tallest legs possible – 8 ” ($14):

Here’s my setup:



5. Put it all together

This is the fun part. Start by constructing the shelving units normally, according to the instructions.

Then take the table top and screw the four CAPITA legs to the bottom of it (like you see on the picture above). You’ll end up with an ultra-low table.

Now just place this table on top of the shelving units.

Next you take the LACK Wall shelf and place it on the table top. For getting the perfect height I advise you to use some books you no longer read, like I did:


That’s it, your standing desk is ready.

What about the chair?

Ah, right. You can get one, why not.

Traditional bar stools work great for standing desks, or any other type of tall chairs (you can get one at Ikea as well).

Here are mine:


This one’s from Ikea:


There you have it – getting a standing desk in one trip to Ikea.

What’s your take on this? Do you think that the whole idea of standing when working can be good for you?

Also, you can visit my gallery at Flickr to get high quality versions of the above photos. They are all Creative Commons, so you can use them anywhere you want (with attribution).

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How to Set Up a Standing Desk (and Why) |