Tips and Tricks for Mastering the Art of Bed Productivity
My adjustable bed broke recently. When the motor died, so did my ability to sit up anywhere outside of my chair. At first, I wasn’t worried since I sleep in pancake-flat hotel beds regularly and get along OK. Within 48 hours, my attitude changed. I started feeling more pain and noticed a steep drop-off in my productivity due to fatigue. For me, this was an important realization about my daily routine and how much extra I am able to get done on my laptop and phone from the comfort of my mattress.
There is a stigma that bed is a place for laziness, but in our lives, that just isn’t true. We have to be careful with our bodies and our energy, and sometimes that means a choice or requirement of getting out of our chairs and lying down. With the connectivity modern devices bring and the advances in positioning and exercise equipment, there is no need to fall behind just because you are stuck in bed.
Stuck in Bed, Struck by Inspiration
With spinal cord injury, sometimes staying in bed isn’t a choice, but a doctor’s order. Therapist Kris Cordero isn’t letting another stint on bedrest get him down. Having dealt with a larger ischial wound and surgeries in the past, the Oklahoma native is approaching his current bed “rest” as a bed “get things done.” Cordero is using his time to make progress on a book, study for the National Counselor Examination and manage social media for a number of businesses, just as he would from his chair. Cordero notes, “If you figure out what you’re passionate about and educate yourself, you can do so much on bed rest. There is a lot of self-discovery that can occur when you are down for a prolonged period of time.”
For Cordero, a C5-6 quad, having the proper equipment is the key to his productivity. To set up his “bed office,” Cordero utilizes a PWR+ adjustable laptop stand with accordion risers that sit directly on his bed and straddle his hips. The stand brings his iPad or MacBook up to a level where he can both comfortably look down at the screen and use his typing aids. I can’t sit up as tall as Cordero, so I use a similar over-bed table set up like the Horizontal Computing System ergonomic laptop stand that allows for extra positioning height flexibility and stability, in case of spasms.
As an iOS guy, Cordero loves the connectivity of his Apple products. “When I’m working on a project, I can take advantage of the cloud and have multiple platforms to work off of. My Apple TV is located on the wall across from my bed and allows me to watch shows while I get things done. When I have friends come over to collaborate, I can use AirPlay to make my TV an extra monitor and projection device to help me multitask and be efficient,” says Cordero.
Working Things Out
Many of us start our days with stretching in place before getting up, but there is potential to do far more in terms of exercising in bed. Tracee Tubbe, a C4-6 quad from the Pacific Northwest, has relied on resting in bed on and off throughout the day to address pain and fatigue since a cervical spine surgery last year. To stay in shape, she uses her SANXIA arm cycle right from bed. After she is propped up with pillows, the bike is placed on a lap table where she can comfortably use Sammons Preston Grasping Cuffs to grip the pedals and crank away. “It makes me feel good to get my muscles moving and work toward my strength goals by continuing to use the arm cycle and resistance bands to exercise outside of my chair. They have helped me regain some of the strength in my arms I had lost,” says Tubbe.
Mindfulness and exercise also help Cordero during his long stints in bed. “Bedrest would be incredibly difficult without any projects. Keeping my fitness and work routine helps with isolation and anxiety,” he says. To maintain physical fitness, Cordero uses Active Hands wrist cuffs with a D-ring and 30-pound resistance bands. “I tie them to the end of my bed and go for high repetition, medium weight, and multiple exercises,” he says. The BedGym offers a similar exercise band setup that encircles your mattress and can be used for Pilates-like weight training and stretching of all four limbs.
When I’m healthy and have a busy schedule, it’s easy to fantasize about a little unoccupied free time as an excuse to catch up on things like reading, sorting through digital photos, or even watching that movie I was dying to see last year. Rethinking my necessary downtime as an opportunity to put my feet up and rejuvenate while still using tools to cross things off my to do list alleviates boredom and lessens my injury-related frustrations. In fact, I wrote this article surrounded by pillows in my new bed while recuperating from a busy week of travel. My ability to still meet my deadline was a nice reminder that being sidelined doesn’t mean I have to take myself completely out of the game.
• Apple, apple.com
• PWR+ Table, pwr-plus.com
• Horizontal Computing Table, horizontalcomputing.com
• Active Hands, activehands.com
• Theraband D-ring handles, theraband.com
• BedGym, bedgym.com
• Sammons Preston grasping cuff, 4mdmedical.com/grasping-cuff-with-wrist-support.html
• Portable exercise bike pedals available from Sanxia on Amazon,
Of Mice and Wheelers
Using a computer or tablet in bed can be tricky for anyone, but the difficulty is magnified for those of us with limited or no arm and/or hand function. A good dictation program and a headset can solve some problems, but navigating with a mouse can be tedious. Here are some hands-free options to help you maximize your productivity.
LipSync: A great option if you are looking to save money, LipSync is a sleek mouth-operated sip-and-puff joystick that you can 3D print for less than $300 in materials. Works with Android and Windows, but not iOS. makersmakingchange.com/project/lipsync
Jouse: With Jouse3, Jouse+ and JouseLite, Compusult offers varying levels of sip-and-puff functionality to suit your needs, from the loaded Jouse3 to the lightweight Jouse+. Jouse3 and Jouse+ start at $1,495 and JouseLite is $995. Works with Android, Windows and iOS. Compusult.com
QuadJoy: Developed by a quad 25 years ago, the QuadJoy mouth-controlled mouse is still going strong thanks to its customizability and ease of use. The QuadJoy 3 starts at $1,398.60. Works with Android, Windows and iOS. Quadjoy.io
Quha Zono: Billed as the “only wireless gyroscopic mouse” designed for people with disabilities, the Quha Zono eschews the sip-and-puff approach for a small, lightweight device that sits over your ear and operates the mouse based on your head movements. Works with Android, Windows and iOS (adapter available). Retails for $999. Quha.com
— Ian Ruder