Caught an interesting discussion on Hacker News today on the merits (or not) of using a standing desk daily. I have a standing desk. I took a photo of it just the other day. I can’t hide my feelings for it, I love it.

While the debate between sitting and standing rages on, I firmly believe both sides are right.

Standing all day is not good for your back. Sitting all day is not good for your back. A standing desk combined with basic ergonomic principals and a solid drafting stool however, is the best of both worlds.

I stand for a bit. I sit for a bit. I get up. I walk around. I sit down again. I stand for awhile. I pull up a foot rest for awhile while standing. I sit for another little bit. You get the picture. I’m not stuck in one position all day long. I can adapt my position regularly. This keeps me feeling great, and also forces me to take ergonomic breaks.

My setup is too simple. An old whitewashed door raised up on cinder blocks, with two 19″ monitors and one 24″ monitor raised on classic books to get the optimal eye level for my height. When I sit, it’s on this stool from Target.

It’s a truly custom fitted workspace. It’s minimalistic. It’s me.


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Let’s build something great!

We’re booking new clients for work beginning July 1st, 2012. Are you looking to create a website, mobile app, or advertising campaign? We can help!.

To learn more about Chai and our process, have a look at our prospectus.

For a free consultation, please e-mail hello@chaistudios.ca or call us at (705) 645-0728.

Cheers, and look forward to working together soon.


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There is an ever increasing number of designers and developers in Muskoka that are not only truly passionate about what they do, but are also pushing the boundaries of innovation.

We have a lot of water in the pot, but no one has turned on the burner yet.

Are you a designer, developer or freelancer living or working in Muskoka? I want to talk to you. I want to see how together we can build a world-class community of design innovators here in Muskoka. There’s no better place – We’re all drawn to Muskoka’s rugged, natural beauty. It’s an amazing place to create, and be creative.

Let’s see how we can work together to create the spark that gets the water boiling. Let’s create Muskoka’s design revolution – It’s long overdue.

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Our work for Three Square Feet is currently featured on Shopify’s homepage as an example, and on numerousdesign blogs, among work from some of my favourite designers of all time.

There are certain designers and creative directors that I’ve always looked up to – They’re my heroes. It’s really inspiring to be able live among your heroes, but it’s also a swift kick in the pants. It’s a reminder to progress, adapt, and keep moving forward – or die a creative death. At one time, that scared me. What if I fizzled out?

It came down to two things for me. First, I needed to set a goal – a Giri. A la Wikipedia, Giri is “a Japanese value roughly corresponding to duty, obligation, or even burden of obligation in English”. My Giri is to rid Muskoka of bad design and uncreative ideas. We’re well on our way to doing that already. Next: the World.

Secondly, I needed a simple reminder not to be afraid. We can be our own worst enemies sometimes. Learning not to be afraid changed me both creatively and personally. Fear is a burden, it slows us down, and some times stops us from even taking a step.

I look at both these posters every day. One is on my roof, one is next to my bed. It’s the first thing I see every day. It’s the last thing I see every day. It works.

My GiriMy Giri


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I’m often asked what techniques we use to focus throughout the day. Most of our team lives in different cities, some different continents. So how do we stay on task when there’s no-one watching?

I was introduced to The Pomodoro Technique a couple of years ago. It permanently changed the way I work.

Developed by Francesco Cirillo in the 80’s, The Pomodoro Technique uses a timer to break down periods of work into 25-minute intervals called ‘Pomodoros’, taken from the Italian word for ‘tomatoes’. Each Pomodoro is separated by a 5 minute break, and every four breaks earns a long break (15 minutes).

I begin my workday around 7AM, complete 8 rounds of Pomodoro’s by lunch, giving me 200 minutes of 100% undivided attention on the task at hand. I follow this with a 45 minute lunch, and then by 6:30 I’ve completed another 12 rounds. Each day this gives me slightly over 8 hours of pure focus.

That seems average – or is it. This article sums it up nicely, but the average American worker wastes over 3 hours of a regular 8 hour stretch each day. This doesn’t include scheduled breaks, such as lunch, so take away an hour there, too. You’re left with a meager 4 hours of productivity daily, less than half of what I complete using Pomodoro’s.

Another advantage is less mental fatigue. I never work longer than 25 minutes, so I never feel mentally strained or exhausted. The constant breaks allow me to track my progress more accurately and I also benefit from the “reboot” or change of perspective a break can have. It always seems to make things a little clearer when I come back. So not only am I getting more working hours, I’m getting more productive working hours.

There’s great software that helps with this. I currently use PomodoroApp because I love it’s built in task management system. In the past I’ve used the free FocusBooster and I also use PomodoroPro on the iPhone.

Give it a shot. I’m sure you’ll love it as much as we do.

Ding, times up. See you in five.

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Being a Web Designer in Muskoka

We’re often asked why we chose to base our studio in Muskoka versus one of the more populous Canadian cities such as Toronto, Vancouver or Montreal. To better understand why we’re here, let me tell you five things about Muskoka.

1. Half of the year there’s more CEO’s here than any big city.
2. You can find at least 3 different lakes within 5 minutes from any point.
3. I eat my lunch here every day.
4. The only traffic is lake traffic.
5. Working from the dock on Fridays is mandatory.

Being a web designer in Muskoka is great. We’re surrounded by natural beauty to pull inspiration from. Quality of life is key for any designer. Happy minds = happy designs. Skype, GoToMeeting and other remote tools allow us to work hand in hand with our clients thousands of miles away with less distractions, commutes, etc. Websites like Forrst and Dribbble allow us to connect with peers and share ideas with others worldwide.

We’re in a virtual economy, take advantage of it.


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