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….
My good lady wife was often cajoling me to, “Get rid of the clutter” and for a long time I didn’t really heed her advice. Until, that is, I decided I was going to de-clutter my home desk.
My desk at home serves as both my home office and my personal PC space. It was cluttered! As well as all the PC equipment on the desk I had:
- Code print outs from work
- Reference books
- Non-work related books
- Music CDs
- Software CDs
You get the picture? One day I realized how crowded I was feeling. Not only could I not find the stuff I wanted; but the stuff I didn’t want kept falling on the floor. It was time to get organized.
The next time I sat down at my desk it was a joy to open my laptop. My wife commented afterwards that I’d looked more at ease and more confident as I started work that morning. I felt much more in control and on-top of things. I could expand my horizons by not being overwhelmed by irrelevant stuff.
Whilst Ive been writing these posts the last couple of weeks I’ve also been surfing around reading blogs by fellow travelers in the 21st century. Some of these blog sites I’ve found to be absolutely over loaded with all manner of:
- Google Adsense advertisements
- Feedburner subscription links
- Other advertisements (frequently blinking fast enough to induce a fit)
- Pictures of recent readers
So much stuff, in fact, that it becomes difficult to determine the true purpose of the blog as the real stuff, the content, gets swamped by all the extraneous material.
I think a blog is a an expression of the person. Why not de-clutter your blog and let the person shine through?
One of my major stressors is the gap between who or what I think I am and how I then behave.
For example I think I’m a good enough parent; but then have occasion to yell at my daughter then I get stressed. Or if I think I’m a caring husband and then have an argument with my wife I get stressed.
So I have to realize that I can be the one thing (good parent, caring husband) and still do the other thing.
Here I am, back from a week off work. The week away was great; but the return to the grind is less so.
I don’t imagine I’m the only person who suffers from the back-to-work blues; but my stress levels are off the scale today. It’s a bit like walking along enjoying the sunshine when BAM! You walk into a lamp post. Ouch!!
What is causing all this stress? Stress originated in the ‘flight or fight’ response system; we get stressed when we’re getting ready to either run away from a situation (flight), or to face it head on (fight). This was great when the situation was a wild animal; but these days is this an appropriate response to daily domestic or work situations? I don’t think so. OK, I agree that some stress is a useful thing; but often I get stressed over things that are inappropriate, or my stress level lasts longer than is appropriate.
If you do a search for stress related stuff you’ll find masses of it on the net. Trying to read all that would really get me stressed out. However there’s a few pointers that I’ve gleaned from an initial scan of some of the material:
- You can alleviate stress once you’ve got it by using relaxation techniques (I guess we all knew this) but…
- It’s better to learn not to get stressed out in the first place and so…
- I have to learn what my stressors are.
So this is one area of personal discovery for me; find out what causes me stress and learn how not to get stressed out. I’ll report back how I get on.