A few years ago I took the plunge and started using BreakTime.app. For those not familiar with it, BreakTime is a small application designed to periodically force you to take a break from what you’re doing on your PC. It starts a timer (configurable, but ~20 minutes), and when that expires you’re shown a full-screen modal that forces you to take a break for the duration of another timer (~2 minutes). In an age of non-ergonomic Apple keyboards and eye-straining glossy displays, the importance of getting some brief respite from the hours spent in front of a glowing screen can’t be overstated. My eyes certainly thanked me when I started using it.
BreakTime is a great concept, but its propensity to obscure the top right quadrant of my screen while I was trying to type commit messages, finally drove me crazy enough to start looking for alternatives.
(This would happen all the time.)
A separate issue is that BreakTime doesn’t have a lot of sympathy for you or the work that you’re doing. Whether you’re in the middle of a video call, desparately handling a production incident, or cranking away at your latest feature while deep in the zone, it will yank you out to its modal; the choppy transition animation a symbol for its callous enthusiasm.
I’m happy to say that I’ve found a far less invasive solution. It makes me feel like a luddite, but manages to keep itself out of my daily work routine while at the same time reminding me that it’s time to take a few minutes of R&R. As a bonus, I get a beautiful piece of industrial design to decorate my desk, and the warm knowledge that I’m living by the same technology that Magellan used to circumnavigate the globe.
For those interested, this is a very basic $16 30 minute black sand hourglass available via Amazon.