Laptops are great when travelling or for bits and pieces here and there. They are definitely not suited to long periods of work, because the keyboard and the screen are too close together, and a trackpad is not so efficient as a mouse. This can lead to a hunched back, wrist and elbow pain, and slow work. In this post I'm going to show you how to make your laptop into a professional workstation, for productive, safe work.
Let's start with the basics. Get somewhere to sit, at a table that you can make into a desk. Throw effort at this. Reserve a space, lay in power cords, and ideally make sure your internet connection is fast and your router (WIFI box) is near your laptop.
Make sure the table top is the right height, and you have room underneath for your legs. Consider getting a table specially for this if you don't have one. Trinity Hospice furniture (Putney) or Andrews (Fulham High St) will deliver. Your chair should be supportive and comfortable. It should be adjustable ideally, so you can sit with your feet flat on the floor, making sure your knees are not above your hips.
The table/desk surface needs to be at a height that it allows your elbow to rest comfortably on the surface. This relaxes your shoulders and wrists.
Calling it a workstation makes you feel like an IT professional and hopefully will help keep it clear of other peoples DIY projects.
You need a new monitor (also called display or screen). These are not expensive and can be collected same day or delivered. Make sure what you buy will connect to your laptop. Take your laptop into a shop or phone someone like John Lewis for advice if you are not sure.
Ideally it should also be height adjustable.
You need a mouse, wired is simpler and more reliable for serious work. Again, make sure it connects to your laptop. For apple air type laptops you will need a "bluetooth mouse", which connects wirelessly.
You may need a dedicated printer set nearby, depending on your workflow (more IT professional kudos).
Look at the diagram, and get everything in the right place. Once you have connected the peripherals to the laptop, fire it up and get everything to connect up. This is the only difficult art, If something doesn't work, call your work IT support or your eight year old.
Get comfortable. Tweak to your heats content, Relax your shoulders, breathe, and take breaks. Use a timer.
Your laptop may work in clamshell mode. It stays closed while you work. Make sure the laptop is permanently connected to power.
If you do your work on your laptop and save it there, get a backup drive. Easier is saving to a cloud service over the internet like Dropbox, iCloud drive etc. That way you cannot lose your work when the inevitable happens. Enquire with your work IT, they probably have this organised especially if you deal with sensitive or valuable material.
Laptops and drinks don't mix. Have an anti spill location for Lattes etc.
if you want a little look at how far you can tech up like a pro , look here
This advice applies just as importantly to children. Melinda has written an accompanying blog post about child posture and seating, read it here.