I have recently been looking into software that will remind me to take frequent breaks throughout the work day. As someone with Repetitive Strain Injury, I definitely do not take as many breaks as I should be taking while I work. I find that after an hour or two of working, my fingers, hands and forearms muscles feel very tight and continuing to work is uncomfortable. Taking frequent breaks is one way to help prevent (or combat, if you are like me and already have) RSI. The software I have looked at reminds you to take breaks every so often:
  • Workrave - Freeware/Open Source for Windows and Linux
  • RSIBreak - Freeware/Open Source for Linux
  • MacBreakZ - For Mac, $25 with a free trial
Most of these types of applications operate based on a few timers: a short break timer that goes off every 2 minutes 30 seconds, enforcing a break lasting 2o-30 seconds, and a long break timer going off every 45 minutes that enforces a 10 minute break. Of course, all these values can be defined by the user. Because my RSI is quite serious, my long break timer goes off every 20 minutes, enforcing a 10 minute long break. This may seem excessive but it is necessary if I want to work without feeling tightness or pain. And that's why you always take breaks while using the computer. I have been using Workrave on my desktop at home, and I plan on using it at work as well. I've actually been using it to write this post. While taking a short break every few minutes is a bit annoying, I realize it is probably necessary for my own health. I plan on using it all of February at both work and home, so expect a follow-up post at the end of February!