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Reminder to writers: Don't forget to take regular breaks!

Writers: Don't forget to take regular breaks from your computer

I love my work. The one downside: I tend to work WAY too long without taking breaks. Although it sounds counter-intuitive, I find that taking regular breaks from the computer makes me MORE productive, not less.

Taking a few minutes to  stretch helps prevent repetitive stress injuries. Forcing yourself away from the keyboard to get some fresh air can also help put things in perspective and spark new ideas. While writers need to write, they also sometimes need to NOT write.

Right now I'm looking for Mac software that will remind me to take breaks  from my computer throughout the work day.  I used to have a great little application, but  the  developer no longer supports it, sadly.

I have tried several types of programs  ever since, but so far I haven't been completely happy with any of them.

I'd like the reminders to be customizable and to not interrupt a work task in progress. I'd like the option of scheduling mini computer breaks as well as longer breaks. I want to be able to end any computer break sooner if I need to. The last application I tried drove me crazy because the keyboard was completely inaccessible at times.

What about the rest of you? Do you have any system in place to make sure you aren't punched over the keyboard for hours at a time without a break?

Reader Comments (14)

4 dogs with weak bladders help me take breaks. More times than I need to.

February 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHazel Mitchell

Try Time Out Free from the App Store.

February 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Brake

hi my name is cailey shread im 12 from england burmingham and i would just like to sya i think the vampired diaries needs a new person maybe a child just to make it a bit more strange and exiting i was thinking i look kinda mysterious
and i think that i would be perfect for it i would love to play a child that katherine sends or is related to her some how,pretends to be a porr homless child and creeps into elenas and stefans life but damon has his suspisions and it all spirals out of control so ou know please send me a message if you read this thank you
yours hopefully

February 22, 2011 | Unregistered Commentercailey shread

I highly recommend TimeOut Free from the Apple App Store: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/time-out-free/id402592703?mt=12

It will remind you to take big breaks, but you can also ask it to remind you to take micro-breaks. I've been using it for a couple of weeks, and I can't recommend it enough.

February 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJean

My mom sits in front of computers all day long for her job. She's a very hi-tech lady doing secret computer stuff for the military. But at the same time she's very old-school. She sets an egg timer and stands up to stretch every 20 minutes when it goes off!
I like your drawing Debbie!

February 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJill Bergman

Hazel: LOL!

David & Jean: I got frustrated with TimeOut, but the reviews from you two have convinced me to give it another shot. Maybe I just need to tweak the settings.

Cailey: Sorry, but I don't have anything to do with Vampire Diaries. I wish you luck in your acting career, though.

Jill: Thanks, Jill. And wow, sounds like your mom has a really interesting job.

February 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDebbie

I think the point with TimeOut is that it is meant to frustrate - it bullies you into taking breaks even when you think "oh I will just be a minute or two more"...

That said, I don't use it or anything else and spend much too long glued to my desk...

February 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Brake

This is news to me. I had no idea there were programs for timing breaks.

February 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMary

I, too, have found the programs for reminders not to my taste.

I break from work to eat, relieve myself, and, once ever six days, shop for food...

Kinda needed this post :-)

There are three methods that works for me.

Method One: The Alarm Clock Method
Set an alarm clock with the snooze button on it. That way I will have to get up to stretch while turning the annoying little rascal off. This also gives me that extra few minutes I might need to polish something off before taking that break.

Method Two: The Changing The CD Method
This works because I have to have music to write but I don't always want to listen to the same thing for my whole writing session. My Cd player is in my room (It's too taxing on my computer to write and play music when I am online) so I will get up and change it. This gives me a mini break if you will.

Method Three: Mama Are You Finished Yet? Method
Eight year old little boys with short attention spans work great for helping you to take a break. Plus you get outside time by going to play and even inspired by their ability to make anything into another world/game.

Not sure if any of these will help but these are the methods I use.

February 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterK.D. Jackson

Have you seen the Computer Rx YogaMD app?
What It Does:
Shows yoga moves to help with body aches from long hours at the desk and reminds you to take a break :)

February 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBridget Casey

Try the Pomodoro Technique: http://www.pomodorotechnique.com/

You can also find pomodoro apps in the itunes store based on this technique.

February 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDonna

I get frustrated with Time Out because it keeps telling me to take a break. It can't really have been fifty minutes? Well, yes, it is.

I did shorten the fade in time. Also, I haven't got the micro breaks right yet. That said, I have been much more productive at non-computer things since I installed it.

February 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJean

This might not work for you, but since I spent a lot of time travelling recently, I started doing my initial drafting on paper in a notebook/journal. It's way more portable, so I can take it anywhere: the park, the porch, the sofa, the kitchen, the cafe. It's especially good for short-form work (short stories, PBs) because once I finish a draft of a story, I can just put it down and gaze at the scenery and stretch my legs a bit while I mull over that draft for a while.

And you're so right; lately, even though I've been more focused on getting life stuff done, I've been so much more productive with my writing. It's like the two things work in favor of each other.

February 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterIshta Mercurio

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