Feel better at your desk: an easy way to take regular breaks and stretch often without forgetting
Most of us spend our days working at a desk or in an office find it very difficult to take breaks regularly. It’s something that really gets me because I find I’m often lost in my work.
Taking regular breaks from your desk is one of the easiest and most efficient ways to alleviate pain and reduce pain from sitting at your desk and working.
We forget about taking regular breaks, but software doesn’t
As there is free software available for reminding us to take these frequent breaks from our work, it seems crazy not to use it!
I will outline the steps for how to install, set up and customise a free piece of software on Windows computers. This is software that I use on my office computer (and no, I’m not the boss!).
If you require admin privileges to install software, I have a pre-written email for you to request this at your work below.
Get the free software, customise it to your needs
The first thing you need to do is to download the software from the following site: http://www.workrave.org/ (safe for work and no malware or any other nasty stuff comes with it, I promise!)
The detailed guide for how to do this is in the slides below (make sure to finish reading the article below for the rest of my tips and tricks!)
If you have a problem here, and do not have sufficient privileges to install this on your work computer, go to the next section for the pre-written email to send to the relevant person in your organisation.
If you have installed it without a problem, you can then follow the steps below for customising this software to your needs and preferences.
I say to customise the times, but I should add that it is already set up for the most beneficial and realistic break schedule during a work day.
However, I have personally set mine up according to the pomodoro technique, which is 25 minutes on, 5 minutes off. I use the five minutes for getting up and going to the toilet, walking to a colleague’s desk to talk face-to-face, or collecting something from the printer. You can do whatever you need here.Requesting administrative access to install software on your work computer:
For those who need to request admin privileges: the e-mail I used at my work
As promised, if you need to request admin privileges to install this free piece of software, you can use the e-mail that I used below. Just copy and paste.
Subject: Request to install well-being software on my computer
I’d like to request admin privileges for my staff computer as I would like to install a small piece of software for wellbeing purposes.
My statistics from using Workrave
My Break Stats
So, at the time of writing, I thought I’d show you some of the stats Workrave provides.
Most worrying from this is my overdue time – 1 hour and 11 mins in total over my rest break time! No wonder I am feeling some tension in my shoulders.
I think I really need to listen to it more (although you can become desensitised to it)
My Activity Stats
From my activity stats (which I have never looked at until now!), I can see I have covered 346m in mouse use!! Wow. Would never have thought that possible.
I also seem to have a large amount of ineffective mouse movement – perhaps I need to take my hand off the mouse more often. That should also help with preventing RSI in my wrist and hands.
Checklist for installing and setting your free software to take regular breaks
- How to prevent & alleviate pain at your desk Free software to schedule your active breaks
- Go to workrave.org – click ‘Free download’
- Click ‘MS Windows Installer’
- Your download should start automatically
- Choose where to save it (‘Downloads’ is a good bet!’)
- Once finished, click the download icon (below) to install Ignore this webpage
- Find the Workrave sheep icon in the system tray (bottom right) ● Right click, then click ‘Preferences’ to change timings
- Under micro-break, set this to how long you need (I use 10 mins between breaks)
- Under ‘rest break’, set this to a realistic time for longer breaks (I use 25 mins with 5 min breaks) ● Click close
- Workrave will now run in the background It makes a sound to remind you about breaks If current timings don’t work, change them to suit you
- For longer breaks, you can do the exercises Skip between them using ‘Exercises Player’
- The End – Happy break-taking!
Install the software and start taking regular breaks today
Let me know how you get on with Workrave in the comments below.
Is it for you? Has it helped? Have you got a photo of you doing the stretches suggested? Share in the comments!
Bonus Tip for better use of Workrave
I would recommend turning the sounds off (in the ‘User interface’ > ‘Sounds’ menu options) as the buzzer sound can become annoying. It is also loud enough to be heard through headphones – one of my colleagues has started noticing it!
If you find Workrave a bit intrusive, a website alternative is Tomato Timer – but you cannot change the timings on this. It uses simple Pomodoro Technique timings and works very well for me, also.
Feel chained to your desk? Snacking to pass the time?
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