Winston Churchill did it. So did Henri Matisse, Mark Twain and F. Scott Fitzgerald while
writing his Last Tycoon. The philosopher René Descartes did, toobut
only till noon. All these productive people worked in bed.
If you, too, find yourself taking laptop, writing
paper or work-related reading to bed with you, here are some ways to
work in bed as productively, and comfortably, as if you were sitting
at your deskperhaps more so.
Use pillows for posture
Alexandra Stoddard, the author most
recently of Choosing Happiness, wrote several of her 22
books in bed, and with nine pillows.
Working in bed requires more support for your back and
neck than sleeping, of course, and it's best not to use your
sleeping pillow. Here's where the many ergonomic pillows now
available can pay off. Because you're sitting on a soft surfaceyour
bedyou need the extra lumbar support that a wedge pillow, or one
with extra filling, puts behind your lower back.
Ideally, the pillow should be
extra long, enough to contour from your lower spine to your shoulder
and back. The goal is to sit up fairly straight, as if you were
sitting in a chair. It's the kindest thing you can do for your lower
Light for working, not just reading
Your lighting needs to be
just as good here as if you were at your desk or in a reading chair.
Your direct, or task, light should cast no shadow on your work
material and create no glare. Reposition it if either one occurs. It
may be that the shade needs to be higher on a night table to disperse more lightin which case, you could place it on a sturdy
book or two to elevate it. Or try a wall lamp. Alexandra used a
swing-arm version when she worked in bed.
Ambient light is also important. Working in bed, you
tend to use more space than merely reading in bed. Have more than
just a reading lamp to illuminate your work area.
Elevate your work space
Lap desks, bed trays or cushions for your laptop are helpful stand-ins for a desk
surface. They'll elevate your work surface slightly, which will help
you maintain good posture and work longer.
Transition from work to sleep
Some sleep experts will
admonish you not to work in bed at night, especially if you suffer
from insomnia. But if it's a habit you don't wish to break, try
inserting some decompression time to help you transition between
work and sleep. For many of us, this takes the form of reading.
Okay, there's TV, too (just don't watch any scary movies).
Find your best time
Of course, working in bed doesn't
have to be only a nocturnal activity. Like Descartes, Alexandra
Stoddard worked in bed in the mornings. That gave her the whole bed
to herself to spread out her papersa generously sized work surface,
indeed. Don't be like Descartes, though, and not rise till noon. Get
up out of bed every half hour or 45 minutes and stretch your legs.
It keeps the blood flowingand often, the creative juices, too.
"And so to bed," wrote Samuel Pepys in his diary. And
so to work.