How I Discovered Break Reminder Software

I used to be an avid online poker player before the American government forced the online poker sites to stop accepting American players.  I loved playing tournaments.   If the tournament had a large amount of players it could go on for several hours (assuming I was playing well enough to stay in!).  During the course of the tournament there would be break times.  Every hour or two, depending on a number of factors, the software would wait until all hands were completed before taking a break, usually 10-15 minutes.  During this time no hands could be played, so it kind of ‘forced’ the player to get up and move around or take a break.  There was a timer on the screen that would count down how much time was left, and when it was over the play would resume as normal.

I still spend several consecutive hours on the computer writing, surfing, working, etc.  I like the concept of a reminder to take a break every so often to stretch and move around, because sometimes I get so involved in what I am doing that inevitably it starts to affect my health and comfort…not to mention my waistline!  So after much research I found software that I could download onto my computer that would help me with taking necessary breaks.

So Which Break Reminder Software Did I Discover?

Time Out by Dejal

The software is a break reminder tool called Time Out by Dejal.  It is a freeware tool that downloads quickly and is very easy to use.  It is a simple tool that doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles, and it doesn’t need them.  Once downloaded, you open up a Preferences window and you set exactly how often you want to take your breaks and for how long.  You can choose to set an alarm sound similar to the ones on your cellphone, but you also have the option of using a favorite music or audio file to kick off your break.  It even comes with an option of taking micro-breaks if you so desire; 5-30 second breaks that just remind you to stretch or rest your eyes.  Both features are completely customizable.  It even gives you the option of running scripts during the break, but I haven’t used that feature yet, though some might find it handy.

An Example of How to Use Time - Out

To give an example, here is how I use it:

Time Out Break Reminder Tool example
  • I have the microbreaks set to pop up for 10 seconds every 15 minutes.  This gives me time to stretch my arms and rest my eyes by looking at an object in the distance (I look out my window).
  • I have the normal breaks set up to pop up for 10 minutes after 60 minutes of continuous work.  My alarm is a song from my iTunes library.  I change my song every day, and I pick an upbeat song that will get me out of my chair and moving.  I use this 10 minutes to do any kind of activity, whether it is walking outside, doing 10 minutes of housework, exercise, anything that gets me moving and my blood flowing.  At the end of the 10 minutes, I use one of the standard sounds to alert me that it is time to get back to work.
  • When the break starts, your computer screen dims and a timer starts.  You have the option of skipping the break if you want, or snoozing it to begin in 1 or 5 minutes.  Again, the times are customizable.   You can even customize how transparent or opaque your computer dims, so if you are in the middle of something you can still see enough to finish your thought.
Time Out Break Reminder Tool Preferences Screen

Until I found this software, my only other option was to set reminders either on my computer’s calendar or on my cellphone.  Setting up either was such a hassle, not to mention how cluttered my calendar became.  Setting  up the Time Out software is much easier, both to set it up and make changes. 

I think this is a great tool that will help out anyone who works on their computer for long periods of time and needs a simple and effective way to remind them to take healthy breaks.

One final note…as far as I know, this software is only compatible with Mac operating software.  They also have a version for the iPad and iPhone.  I’m currently searching for a good free version for my Windows laptop.  If I find one I will review it.