Now that I’m doing exercises to strengthen my weak knees, I’ve resolved to get up from my desk and stretch a few times a day as well. But it’s hard to force myself to take breaks; even if I set an alarm, I tend to just turn it off and keep working.
I found a free program for the Mac in the App Store called Time Out from Dejal (also available at the company’s website) that forces me to take a break from my computer. It’s a very basic app, with all its controls in its Preferences area. You tell it how many minutes you want your break to be, how many minutes between breaks, and whether you’re allowed to postpone the breaks. That’s pretty much it.
So I set it up to give me a 5-minute break every 55 minutes. When break time comes up, it gives me 30 seconds of warning, and then my screen goes gray for 5 minutes while it shows a countdown bar of how much time is left until the end of the break.
The program also allows you to schedule micro-breaks in addition to major breaks. I haven’t tried those yet.
At the end of 1 day of use, this program forced me to take more breaks than I was able to make myself take on my own. Two thumbs up for Time Out Free. The developer’s website says a shareware version, with lots of options, is coming shortly.
The developer has also created Simon, software to monitor websites and web servers; I’m going to try that one out next, to ensure our website is always up.
Knees photo by Howdy, I’m H. Michael Karshis, from Flickr Creative Commons.