Exam Ergonomics

It’s that time of the semester again — crunch time!  Many of us are in our final week before winter break, completing semester projects or cramming for exams.  And if you’re anything like me, that means you are hunched over your laptop, eyes bleary, neck and shoulders growing tighter and more twisted by the moment.  Your mom told you time and time again, sit up straight, and in this case, Mom knows best.  The proper posture should minimize your discomfort, allowing you to stay focused and do your best work.

To set up your study space for success, try the following tips:

  • Make sure the angle at your hips is between 100-110˚.  Your knees should be about equal height with or slightly lower than your hips, so adjust your seat height or use a footstool if you need to raise your knees.
  • Adjust your keyboard height and angle so that your elbows open into a 100-110˚ angle and your wrists are straight.  Position your mouse closely enough to not have to reach for it.
  • Position your screen to minimize glare and so that the top of the screen is 2 or 3 inches above your eye level.
  • Always keep your monitor and keyboard directly in front of you. No twisting! (This goes for books and documents if you’re not working on the computer as well.)
  • Take regular breaks! Get up and move and stretch every 20 to 30 minutes.  Give your eyes a rest by focusing on something across the room for a short time.  Close your eyes and cover them with your palms for 10-15 seconds.

That’s all there is to it!  Stay comfortable (and productive) and good luck on all those exams!

To learn more, visit:
http://www.ergonomics.ucla.edu/Howto_Workstation.html
http://ergo.human.cornell.edu/ErgoTips2002/workstation/workstationmain.htm

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