How I Stay Comfortable (and Focused) Throughout the Day

You can’t do your best work if you’re uncomfortable.

It’s hard to focus if the temperature’s not right. Or you’re wearing the wrong clothes. Or your back is bothering you.

And when you can’t focus, your writing suffers.

So does your productivity.

There are a few things I do to stay comfortable while I work. But perhaps the most important is to sit on the best, most comfortable chair in the world.

Yeah, yeah. I know standing desks are all the rage these days. So if that’s your thing, cool. (I’ve considered giving that a try.)

But if you sit at your desk, I can’t overemphasize the importance of a good chair.

I’m a huge fan of the Herman Miller Aeron.

You see these modern chairs in a lot of offices these days. Especially tech companies.

They’re amazingly comfortable. The ergonomic design keeps you from getting a stiff back or shoulders. And the mesh fabric keeps you dry and cool.

I’ve had one for about 10 years and wouldn’t sit on anything else.

In fact, I’m on my second one. After nine years of reliable service, my first one broke a few months ago.

(And no, I’m not an affiliate. I don’t make a dime from this endorsement.)

The only downside of the AERON is the price. They’re not cheap. A new one will set you back around $1,000.

But before you think I’m crazy, let me give you a valuable tip.

You don’t have to pay full price to get your hands on one of these. Check eBay and Craigslist and you’re likely to find one for $300 to $500.

Big companies buy these by the hundreds. And when they downsize or move locations, they’ll often sell dozens of these chairs on eBay and similar sites.

That’s exactly how I bought both my Aerons. In fact, the replacement I bought last December set me back just $350. And it was barely used!

The seller was local (a telecom company that was downsizing), so I didn’t have to pay shipping. I just drove to their offices to pick it up.

(Hint: eBay will let you narrow down your product search to sellers in your area.)

Yes, $350 is a big chunk of money. But here’s how I look at it: If it can help me stay comfortable, focused and productive, a comfortable chair will pay for itself in less than a week.

 What About You?

I’m curious. How do YOU stay comfortable in your office throughout the day?

How do you create an environment that helps you stay focused and productive?



  • Dubious in DC

    I went to a chiropractor who recommended a monitor screen (not laptop!) adjusted to the correct height, in addition to the right chair. Personally, I sit on a yoga ball on casters, with my legs on either side as if I were on my horse. It keeps my back straight and as a bonus, it works my core muscles, which are essential for dressage 🙂

    • I’ve seen people use that yoga ball. It looks uncomfortable, but I bet it’s better for you and not as uncomfortable as it seems.

  • Chris H.

    I recently bought a new chair that is very similar to this one. It has made a world of difference in my physical comfort as I work. Using Ed’s 50-20-50 productivity routine also helps because I get up and move around, stretch, etc., during that 20 minutes. Before I started using the routine I would sit for hours without realizing it, then find myself very stiff and “stove up” when I did stand up. Thanks Ed!
    — Chris H.

    • That’s a great one-two punch combo!

  • I depend on the Herman Miller Embody chair. Although it’s a toss up as to whether I like the Embody or the Aeron better. Can’t go wrong with either one. I will say that the chair should be the #1 thing to consider in your office.

  • Carol Youmans

    What a great tip Ed! I’m moving from California to Florida this month and will need a new chair. I searched like you suggested and found several on Craigslist! Thanks.

    • You won’t regret it!

      • Carol Youmans

        I know! I have used those chairs before, but never felt I wanted to spend $1000 bucks!

        • It’s one of those purchases that seems silly until you actually do it. Then every time you sit down to work you’re thanking yourself for doing.

  • I rely on not having an office and walking to a couple of places where there’s activity and free WiFi to enhance my comfort level. I have an adequately well operating internal timer that works for cooking, as I “aggressively cook” more food with an actual timer, and so, before my legs and back seize up on me, I get up and walk some more. Being mobile keeps me from screening out. Working in parks, gardens, coffee joints, restaurants, and libraries has helped me lose 35 pounds. I walk 4 to 5 miles a day.

  • Being an elite endurance sitter (and reminded of that fact every time I stand up), I need to take this advice immediately. The thought of having to shop and test-drive the right fit is daunting…

    Until reading this article, it hadn’t occurred to me that one of the most unproductive discomforts I have is hunger – which is disproportionately distracting to me!

    • Sabine

      Ellie, I’m exactly the same! I get hangry and have to remind myself to take proper food breaks!

    • Glad to hear the timing for this message was just right. 🙂

  • Sabine

    I have one of those backless stools with a round bottom that you get at IKEA. At first I was sceptical but the round foot makes me move and sit more flexibly, plus I can adjust it perfectly to the height of my bureau and store it neatly when I’m done in the evening. I also have an armchair for reading and thinking, and the colours in my home office matter a lot — soft olive treen walls for focus and calm, and a pop of orange energy in the shape of my desk. The next thing I’ll do is paint one wall with whitewall paint so I can sketch out ideas standing up.

    • Sabine, I did this recently – coated an entire wall with ReMARKable dry-erase paint. I now have a 10-foot-wide whiteboard and love it.

    • Love the wall color idea. I need to keep that in mind when I redo my office.

  • Michael Tevlin

    I had a Herman Miller Aeron for about 10 years, too. It IS the most comfortable chair I’ve ever sat in. Unfortunately, almost no chair works for me. I hurt my lower back several years ago, and, though physical therapy, discovered that, regardless of chair or how you sit, the sitting posture places the most stress on your lower back. Today, I have a standing desk and I love it. BTW, I bought my Aeron for $500 AND sold it 10 years later … for $500. They absolutely retain their value.

    • Wow, a piece of furniture that actually retains its value over the long haul!

  • Michael Tevlin

    Whatever you sit in, make sure you get up and take breaks. Every 30 minutes or at least every hour, get up, walk a bit and stretch. It’s good for your back—and your eyes. Sitting for long periods is terrible for your back!

    • That’s a must-do, for sure!

    • True. “Sitting is the new smoking.”

  • Jessica Hirst

    Sitting upright really makes my hips and lower back tight. Working from home, I like using a kneeling chair or writing on the couch where I can stretch my legs out. Being comfortable helps me focus and create so much better.

  • Joel Altman

    You’re right on for chairs. Yet when my mind is really engaged in a project, I( don’t notice where I’m sitting or the things around me. <3 a challenge.

  • Fayola Bostic

    Buying a screen and keyboard has helped me so much. I had been working on just a laptop and that wreaked on my posture. It got so bad that last year, I actually damaged my ulnar nerve and now I still feel tingly in my pinkie finger. Sometimes it’s about more than comfort!

  • srini venkataraman

    Had a regular chair for few years and started getting back pain. So my friend physiotherapist suggested Mirra chair and was quite expensive. But I don’t regret because my condition is much better in last 2 years.