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Desktop Management of Break Time

Adam RuthAdam Ruth

I have the problem, which is probably pretty common among programmers and system administrators, of sitting for too long at my computer. I’ve been having some trouble with a stiff neck and shoulders, not to mention eye strain and other problems with not taking enough breaks. In order to alleviate this problem I went looking for software to remind me when it’s time to take a break.

After some searching I settled on MacBreakZ (which, for some reason, I keep pronouncing as “mac break zee” instead of “mac breaks” which I’m sure is correct.) I’ve been using it for a couple of weeks now and I’m really pleased with it.  It has a number of options for when it reminds you to take a break, as well as tracking your mouse and computer use. I’ve got it set up for a 5 minute break after 30 minutes of computer use. During the break it shows random stretches from its collection of 42 geared toward office workers allowing you to do the stretches if you don’t get away from the computer all together. 

There is also a feature to track your keyboard and mouse usage and warn you when you’ve been typing or mousing too fast for too long, to prevent repetitive stress injuries. I had to disable this feature, however, because either I’m a superhuman typist or it’s just too sensitive to work with my pace. It’s configurable, but only the least sensitive setting didn’t get triggered by just a couple minutes of my working. 

I’ve found it to enhance my productivity, even though you might think it would slow you down by taking regular breaks. I highly recommend such software for anyone that spends a long time with a computer, particularly for anyone susceptible to repetitive strain injuries. 

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