Five years ago Ghacks released a blurb about a new program that was brand new for computers. Called Workrave, the small application provided notices to keep computer users from spending too many consecutive minutes staring at the computer screen, which can lead to Repetitive Stress Injuries (RSIs) that can grow significant with repeated exposure.
Since then, Workrave has issued a series of updates that make the program even more useful at combating RSI. Anyone who spends more than an hour or two on their computer each day should take a careful look at what the program now has to offer to prevent headaches and hand injury further down the line.
To get started, follow this link to the program’s download page and start the 11 MB transfer. The installation is simple and fast, and you should be able to have the program on your computer in no time at all. Once installed the program puts an icon of a jumping sheep on your taskbar which you can right click to make changes. To get everything fine-tuned just the way you would like, begin by right clicking on the icon and selecting Preferences.
The default screen provides an interface through which you can program what kinds of breaks you would like and how often you wish for them to appear. For example, by clicking on the micro-break tab you can choose an amount of time between breaks, how long those breaks should be, and how long the default postpone time, or “snooze,” should be. You can do the same for different longer rest breaks that are just long enough to encourage you to get up and get a new mug of coffee or walk around the room. Finally, you can set a daily limit for computer usage, although you will likely find this setting to be more harm than help.
Next, fine tune your settings through the User interface button on the left of the preferences tab. Here you can change things like the volume of break notices, whether the program starts automatically with Windows or even whether or not you want to be able to see the remaining duration of the break once it has begun.
Best of all, if you have to transfer into crisis mode and begin working without breaks for a bit, you can suspend the programs features and continue with your work unhindered by the occasional break interruptions. If you find yourself using this feature too often you may not want to bother with the program at all, but most people will find it handy to silence the notices only occasionally.
Products that are aimed at stopping RSI have come a long way since symptoms of the malady became noticeable with daily computer use. While simple, the latest version of Workrave helps people stay safe from the most common health problems created by contemporary work environments. It can be very easy to ignore the headaches and hurts that we experience on a daily basis. By moving around once every so often, however, we can greatly reduce RSI’s effects.
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