In a previous post, I mentioned that I’m now using Ubuntu Linux with Gnome as my primary desktop. There, I forgot to mention one of my favourite features of Gnome: a time-out facility that encourages me to take a typing break. Under the keyboard settings, I set it to force me to take a 5-minute break after 50 minutes of using the computer. It monitors my use of the keyboard and mouse, and after the specified time, it greys-out the screen and locks the keyboard. There is an option that allows me to postpone the break, which comes in handy when I’m on a roll when writing or in an instant-message conversation.
Although this feature is designed to help prevent repetitive stress disorder caused by keyboard and mouse use, I find it is more useful to me for giving my eyes a rest. When I’m working, I get very focused and can sit in front of the computer for hours without moving. So this “take a break” feature of Gnome is very good for me.
If this sounds like a helpful thing for you, but you don’t use Gnome, try searching for a similar utility for Windows, Mac, etc.