One of the most difficult things for me to do is to take a break from the keyboard. When I’m in the zone I just want to keep typing; but over the years this has had a detrimental affect on my neck and shoulders.
I even had a little message pop-up occasionally to remind me, “Every hour take a 15 minute break.”.
Did this work? Did it heck!
Then I came across Workrave. This little program is designed so that I have to take a break when it tells me to. It’s very flexible and can be set up so that:
- You periodically take micro-breaks of a short duration.
- Less frequently you have to take a longer break where you do some stretches or take a walk around.
- It will even limit the total amount of time you can spend on the computer each day.
So now I have a set up where:
- Every 8 minutes I have to stop using the keyboard for 30 seconds. This is a micro-break.
- Every 45 minutes I have to take a 10 minute rest break.
Because my day is very open ended at the moment I have switched off the ‘total time allowed each day’ facility.
When the break time arrives you get a audio and visual (pop-up window) reminder. If you ignore these then the pop-up starts to flash, first orange then red. However there’s no escaping your break because if you continue typing Workrave will add on the extra seconds you need to complete your stoppage.
The rest breaks advises you to get up from the computer and do something else. It will even pop-up a series of exercises to perform to help relieve fatigue and muscle stress.
You can, it you choose, postpone or even skip a break if you simply must; but then that rather defeats the purpose of running Workrave. I’ve been using it for less than a week and I can already feel my shoulders are less tense.
Oops time for a micro-break….