Create a Comfortable Workspace

What constitutes a "comfortable workspace" is extremely subjective, if only because we're all different.

I happen to like taking my tablet PC to the various coffee shops in town, sitting down, plugging in my iPod, and sketching away (or at this particular moment, writing a book). That doesn't mean my nomadic style works for everyone; you might find the idea of working anyplace but at home revolting. It all boils down to the first tip in this chapter: Find the place you feel your most creative. When you've done that and you have the best equipment to help you achieve that, the next thing to do is make sure you have a comfortable workspace. Not only will it help you mentally stay focused on your work, but physically, it could help you prevent any kind of repetitive-stress injuries.

For desk people, try to make sure that the desk you work at is the right height for your body and that your chair is both comfortable and offers good back support. Try to set your tablet at an angle that is easy on your wrist. (Or if you prefer to use a mouse, try to use a gel wrist rest.) If you're the type that likes to use the keyboard shortcuts while you're working, try to move the keyboard so that it's easy to reach with your nondrawing hand.

For the laptop crowd, you obviously don't get the luxury of a comfy chair and desk combo (I guess it really depends on the type of coffee shop or bookstore you hang out in), but some of the above suggestions can still apply. First and foremost, try to find a table that's the right height for you (or grab a cheap foam-backed lap desk if you like working away from a table). You can always brace your tablet along the edge of the laptop (or on top of the keyboard) to assist in the hand-eye coordination, as well as save a bit of space if you happen to be working in a smaller area.

Depending on how you set up your laptop and tablet, you might not have easy access to the available keyboard shortcuts. If that's the case, you can purchase a programmable minikeyboard to use. Or if you don't have the money to spend, grab an old game controller and do an online search for the program Joy2Key. That program can help you customize the controller's buttons to whatever keys or key combinations you want.

Regardless of where you work, you need to be aware of your posture. Working digitally is obviously different from working over a piece of paper, especially in how your body is positioned. So, you can't hunch over your work quite the same way you do with traditional tools.

That's why I mention having a good comfortable setup while working. If you're not comfortable, you may find yourself working in a position that could put pressure on your neck, shoulders, and/or drawing wrist. Those kinds of repetitive stress injuries only kill your productivity in the long run. At best, you may have to take longer and more frequent breaks; at worst, there may be surgery to deal with.

Just because you may have found a comfortable setup doesn't mean you can't change things up now and then. Try to switch your position and tool placement around occasionally. It can help keep your body from becoming too accustomed to working in one position.

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