Recently I’ve had to put in some really long shifts at the computer to get some coursework done. It’s done now but at its peak I was spending up-to 10 hours a day sitting at the computer. This just wasn’t good - I was getting a sore back as well as shoulder pain. You need to keep working though to get stuff done. This was my solution.

I knew that it was very important to take breaks and started by saying: take breaks on the hour for five minutes. This, while seeming very easy just didn’t happen. I would just forget, or postpone it until I forgot. I tried setting my alarm but it was too much of a hassle to setup every time - so the problem remained.

The next morning, another intensive day ahead I thought, right, there must be a way to get this working. I did a little research and it turns out there are lots of programs to help you remember your breaks. While, somewhat amazingly, there are lots that you need to pay for, there was one good free solution available which was what I needed.

It’s simply called: Time Out. When it’s time for a break the screen fades and a timer ticks down showing the time left on the break. There are two different break cycles. The first is for regular breaks, I take 5 minutes every 55 minutes and have set them to be un-skipable. The second is for micro breaks to remind you to stretch and move about, these can be delayed and I take 30 seconds every 10 minutes. These settings are all totally customisable though.

I’ve been using it for a few days now and it’s really helped me keep track of the time. You would think it’s bad being interrupted but I think for me it was just what I needed.

While it doesn’t make it healthy to work away at the computer for hours at a time it certainly makes it hopefully less damaging and more bearable. I hope to be able to use computers with as little pain as possible in years to com, hopefully this will help that happen.