No, I’m not going to tell you how to turn the thing on or troubleshoot Windows 10 problems, but I will tell you how to set yourself up to maximize productivity, while avoiding aches and pains.

Laptop Use 101: Using a Laptop Like a Pro

Consider the picture of this female student, which demonstrates the posture that most users adopt while using laptops; shoulders shrugged with the upper back rounded, neck looking down and wrists bent outward.

Laptops weren’t designed for ergonomic use, but rather as a portable small screen with the keyboard and pointer device attached. This makes them easy to transport, but leads to awkward postures – a key ergonomic risk factor that can lead to discomfort, and even injury, if combined with other risk factors, like repetitive use and duration.

So, when using your laptop for longer than 15-20 minutes at a time, use an external mouse and keyboard so that you can prop it up, positioning the top of the screen just below your eye level and promoting a more upright posture (Figure 1). If at home, see if you can connect the laptop to an external monitor – larger than the laptop screen – to allow increased font size and resolution, easing eye strain (Figure 2).

Also, if the keyboard’s surface is adjustable, set it so your elbows are at approximately 90 degrees and your forearms are parallel to the floor with a straight wrist. Your shoulders should also be relaxed, not shrugged. If you can’t adjust the surface, see if you can raise your chair, bringing your arms in line with the surface. However, you may need a footrest support for your feet to prevent sliding away from the backrest or getting uncomfortable pressure behind your thighs.

Stay tuned for our next class, Chairs 101, where you will learn how to select and adjust an office chair to maximize support and, ultimately, comfort.

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