Remember to take a break with Workrave

runs on Linuxruns on Windows
screenshot of Workrave

For folks who spend too much time in front of a computer, repetitive strain injury (RSI) can be a real problem. The effects can range from mildly annoying to physically debilitating; from headaches and eye strain up through carpal tunnel syndrome. One important way to try to avoid these types of problems is to mix up your routine, and to avoid repeating the offending actions. It's hard to remember to take a break, so sometimes a tool like Workrave can be a help.

Workrave is an application that reminds you to take a break. There are three different types of reminders for you: a micro-pause, a rest break, and a daily limit. The micro-pause is a frequent break of short duration—just a few seconds to take your hands off the keyboard and mouse and to focus your eyes somewhere else other than on your monitor. A rest break is a bigger break to your routine. You'll want to get up, move around, maybe go get that cup of coffee you've been craving. And, or course, the daily limit tells you that you've done enough for the day, and that you really ought to get on with the rest of your life.

The intervals between each of these breaks, as well as their duration, is individually configurable. If you haven't had any RSI problems, you may want to spread the timing out here; if you have had problems, then you may want to dial your breaks up to help keep from exacerbating problems. Needless to say, if you are experiencing RSI symptoms, it's always a good idea to check with your medical provider to explore ways to help deal with them.

Workrave is a free download. It's available for both Windows and Linux platforms.

Download Workrave

One Response to “Remember to take a break with Workrave”

  1. app says:

    I wrote a similar application for Windows that focuses more on increasing productivity and cutting down on procrastination, based on Merlin Mann’s (10+2)*5 system, called Instant Boss. (works well for RSI prevention and helps people with ADD/ADHD maintain focus, too)

    If you find Workrave a bit too restrictive you might want to give it a try. (it’s free!)

    Instant Boss will not lock down your machine during a break, allowing you to use it for fun and non-work related purposes.

    Sometimes a game of Solitaire or another small puzzle can refresh the mind and increase productivity better than just stopping work and stepping away from the pc.

    Students may find they are more focused on their studies if they can use sites like MySpace, Facebook, or whatever else they might be thinking of, on their breaks. That way they can focus on studying during work periods and not thinking about who is doing what on what site, saving that for the scheduled breaks.

    Instant Boss also allows you to extend work periods and breaks, if you need to, because sometimes you just need a little bit more time.

    It also allows you to pause it if you get interrupted by a phone call or other unavoidable distractions.

    Additionally, it includes some automatic basic usage tracking statistics, to serve as motivation & encouragement.

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