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Dandy Cast 047: Feeling some strain? Learn how to ease it.

Sean Anderson
Sean Anderson

This podcast episode was recorded as an accompanying audio version of the Dandy Newsletter that was published on October 20, 2020.

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Show notes

Dude, repetitive strain injury is no joke. Left unchecked, RSI is not only a painful affliction, it can also impede your ability to complete your work. It’s a major problem if you let it get out of hand. Luckily for us, it can also be avoidable. Oh yeah, there’s loads of stuff we can do to mitigate the strain we put on our bodies.

One such thing I recently did was get a new keyboard. It’s a mechanical one, by the way, but I won’t go on too long about that. My old keyboard was terrible for my desk, and therefore, also my wrists. I was starting to feel some soreness in my joints. A new keyboard, and following the advice in this dispatch, helped a lot.

There’s also a brand spankin’ new blog post waiting for you. It’s called, Vacations Aren’t for Working!

If you have some time off, then you shouldn’t be spending it working. It’s your time! You should be doing what you want with it. So let’s learn how to rid ourselves of those guilty feelings we might have while on vacation. Treat yourself right. Put your feet up, do something fun, and enjoy your vacation. You’ve earned it.

We’re wrapping things up with what I’m watching, reading, and listening to this week. It’s a great assortment of media that’s worth your time.

Links to stuff that was mentioned:

K6 mechanical keyboard - Keychron

Keychron’s K3 Kickstarter campaign - Kickstarter

MX Keys - Logitech

Vacations Aren’t for Working! - Dandy Cat Design

I Overspeakered Myself | Connected Pro - Relay FM

Superstore - IMDb

As Long As You Are | Future Islands - YouTube

The full text

The Dandy Newsletter—10/20/20

I recently purchased a Keychron K6 mechanical keyboard. Look at how pretty it is!

A Keychron keyboard sitting on a desk.

I’m not going to evangelize the neatness of mechanical keyboards in this dispatch, so never fear. I mean, they’re nice and all, but I’m not planning on blowing all my money on various keyboards, switches, and keycaps. Full disclosure, though, I did also fund Keychron’s K3 Kickstarter campaign. Hey, when you find something you like, why not get as into it as you can afford? In all honesty, this may be about as much as I’m willing to spend on keyboards. With what I have now, I can get what I need.

I purchased these new keyboards because I was beginning to notice some small aches in my right wrist with my old one, the Logitech MX Keys. It’s a nice keyboard and I always enjoyed the feel of the keys. For its price, it had better have a quality feel. However, after a lot of consideration, I’m planning on selling it to a friend who will enjoy it even more than I did.

My problem with that keyboard was its number pad on the right side. It was not to my, or my wrist’s, liking. I’ve been using keyboards without number pads since around 2008, when I got my first MacBook Pro. I’ve gotten used to relying just on the number keys above the letters for a long time. At this point, I don’t want another keyboard with a number pad on it ever again.

The problem is compounded by the size of my L-shaped desk. The width of the keyboard is enough that I had to position it farther to my left than it should have been to allow my mouse/trackpad to stay on my desk. These issues added up:

Slightly too small desk + too long keyboard + bad keyboard positioning + reaching too far to use my mouse = repetitive strain.

Repetitive strain = aches, numbness, pain.

They call it repetitive strain injury for a reason. When you frequently perform an action that your body isn’t designed to do over a long time, you’re going to start harming your body. You’re telling your muscles, nerves, and tendons to do things they’re not designed to do. After a while, they’re just going to start giving up. That slight tightness you feel in your wrist or your neck can develop into annoying aches and even serious, debilitating pain if not cared for in time.

I made the choice to ditch my Logitech keyboard for something that was much slimmer. By getting one that doesn’t have a number pad (and in the case of the K6, puts the arrows right under the return key), I’ve been able to correct the placement of my input tools. Now, my letter keys are directly in front of my hands and my mouse is only an inch or two away, instead of several.

I’m continuing to watch out for aches in my wrists, as well as the rest of my body, but so far, I’ve felt great. This change in equipment has had a dramatic effect on my body. I’m also enjoying the heck out of using this mechanical keyboard. Yeah, I lied a little earlier; this keyboard is wonderful. I’ve got Gateron brown switches in this one. They make a pleasing clack-clack-clack while I’m typing. Working at home, I don’t have to worry much about the noise they make. I can just enjoy the sound and feeling of productivity happening as I work. Keychron keyboards receive my heartiest recommendation.

Okay. That’s the last I’ll go on about them. Promise.

  • Breaks are important. You’re going to put stress on your body by doing the same thing all day every day, especially if you’re sitting. Take a few minutes away from your desk every hour to walk around and stretch.
  • Get tools that help alleviate or prevent RSI. An appropriate keyboard and mouse can do wonders for you. Don’t settle for the stuff that comes with your computer or cheap, plastic things. Invest in your health.
  • No slouching. Ensure you’re sitting upright with your shoulders back and relaxed and place your feet flat on the ground.
  • Put your monitor at eye height. Take stress off your neck by keeping your eyes and chin up.
  • Arm position is important. Ensure your desk and chair are at appropriate heights to allow for your elbows to be bent at a 90º angle, forming an L-shape.
  • Protect your wrists. Keep them as straight as possible. They shouldn’t be bending back or angling left or right. They should feel relaxed and comfortable.

These tips are a great place to start. Remind yourself to do all of them throughout the day until they become second nature to you. Trust me, your body will thank you for it.

Kick your feet up, why don't ya?

There’s a new blog post waiting for you. Let’s do a dance! 🎉

It’s called: Vacations Aren’t for Working!

The timing of this post is a slight coincidence, considering how much I was talking about taking some time off last week. I like it when that happens. This week’s post is a good reminder that time away from work is nice and restorative, but only if you’re actually taking time away from work.

Like, doing no work. I took my birthday in May off and had a great time doing it, but I did notice that I had a hard time staying away from my desk and computer. Hey, when you enjoy what you do, you want to keep doing it. However, time for yourself is an important thing to treasure.

Click through the link above to read this post and learn how to have more meaningful time when you head into your next vacation (or random day off). Vacations aren’t for your employer, even if your boss is you. Your vacations are your own, so knock off the work. Take the whole day for yourself. You deserve it.

If you ever want to throw some suggestions my way, then send me a reply to this email. They’re always wonderful to receive.

Seriously friend, I'd love to hear from you.

Until next time, stay dandy, cat.


Sean Anderson

Lover of productivity tips, Apple devices, and vegan ice cream. Mostly, I'm busy petting cats 🐱 and dogs 🐶

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