Having a somewhat obsessive personality, I tend to get very focused on what I’m working on. Hours can go by with me forgetting to stand up and stretch, rest my eyes, have a drink, etc.
A long time ago, I wrote a little break timer program to run a countdown clock in the background. When the time was up, it would blank my screen out, and say “Time to take a break”. I configured it to do a series of 30 second micro breaks followed by a longer 5 minute break (all configurable). It worked great for a while, but then I added a Cancel button for situations in which I wasn’t ready to take a break. Oh how lame I am! Pretty soon, the cancel button was king.
Now here’s a pretty cool windows sidebar gadget called stretch clock. (Turns out to be written by another programmer/musician named Shane, from the Washington band Fanny Alger). It’s a very simple idea. It just counts down a user selectable number of minutes, and when the time is up, it pops up a web page with a short video of a stretch to do. There are a bunch of different videos, less than one minute each, and it randomly selects one each time.
The big difference with this compared to my old program is that the videos are compelling enough that they make me want to stand up and follow along. Yes, the guy in the video is a total geek, but then hey, who am I kidding? So am I! And surprise surprise, these stretches always feel really good.