Sometimes when I’m working on something I’ll get totally absorbed, lose track of time, and end up with my head glued to the computer for hours. When I eventually finish and come up for air, I feel completely drained for the rest of the day, and I can’t help but think that if I had paced myself better I would probably be more productive overall. I’m assuming this is not uncommon for geeky typed people.
Anyway, there are a few applications out there for helping you remember to take a break. One of these is WorkRave, which is specifically designed for prevention and treatment of RSI, and is released free of charge under the GPL.
I have just started playing with it but it looks great. It gives you the option of scheduling breaks of varying durations and frequencies. All the schedules work on timers that pause during idle time (so if you take a break between timer events you won’t end up over-breaking :)). I have set it up to be pretty discreet (not enforcing breaks, no micro breaks etc), but it is serving as a good reminder to come up for air once an hour or so.
It also tracks daily statistics on mouse movements and keystrokes if you are interested in that sort of thing. One of the top features for me was the Exercises screen, which runs you through a few basic exercises you can do at your workstation to make sure you don’t maintain a static posture for too long.