Ergonomics for office productivity - computer mouse

Often overlooked, but playing a role in our everyday comfort at work is the beloved computer mouse.  It’s worth paying attention to find one that fits comfortably in the palm of your hand and which requires as little effort as possible to operate.  The greater the force, the greater the chance of strain.

Some mice are designed for one hand or the other and support the hand more fully.   I suggest, however, choosing a mouse that fits comfortably in either hand. Why? To allow you to switch hands when necessary.

When I injured my right rotator cuff, I learned how to mouse with my left hand out of necessity.  I thought it would take a long time to get used to, but was amazed that in one morning it seemed natural. I wish handwriting was as easy to switch!  Now I can alternate hands whenever the need arises. Mousing with my left hand also allows me to write with my right hand while manipulating the mouse.

With traditional keyboards the number pad appears on the right hand side, pushing the mouse further to right of centre. On the left hand side, you can keep the mouse closer to centre, avoiding reaching.

A symmetrical mouse also allows you to share use of the mouse with others.  A tip to make it easy to switch: if you’re using a pc, do not reset the left and right mouse keys. Simply get used to using different fingers in one hand than the other. It will simplify switching with others.

When using the mouse your forearm should be supported by an armrest or support. Wrist rests may be employed to provide a soft resting place for the hand when not mousing. The heel of the hand is best placed on the rest. Avoid resting the hand on a hard surface for long periods.

A scroll wheel is essential to avoid repetitive clicking when moving up or down a page.

If I had to pick one thing missing from most offices, it would be mouse pads. You know what?  Mouse pads work!  A mouse pad helps the mouse move more smoothly and reduces the number of movements you have to make. If you do one thing right away, get yourself a mouse pad.  Why not even create a photo mouse pad?

Learn software shortcuts to reduce dependence on the mouse for repeated actions. My two favourites are Ctrl_C for Copy and Ctrl_V for paste. These two alone will save you a great deal of mousing.

Consider wireless devices to help reduce visual noise in the work space.  Batteries last a long time.

Ah, I almost forgot the most important point.  Your keyboard and mouse should be placed on a keyboard tray wide enough to accommodate movement of the mouse.  If you mouse on the desk surface instead, you run the risk of straining your shoulder. Be careful!


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