3 Tools to Remind Yourself to Take a Break & Relax While Working at the Computer

Tina Sieber 30-06-2011

Working on the computer may not be very physical, nevertheless it’s tough on your body. Sitting all day can hurt your lower back and has a negative impact on your circulation. Extensive typing can stiffen the muscles in your upper back and neck, and finally staring at the screen for hours on end is very tiring and can cause serious problems, such as dry eyes. Moreover, office work has been associated with insomnia and anxiety. If you are damned to spend your working hours behind a desk, you had better find ways to do something good for your body.


The good news is that short breaks of relaxing and stretching can do wonders for your health and well being. And who doesn’t like to take breaks during work? In this article I will show you tools you can integrate into your workday to remind you that you need to take a break.


EVO is a website helper which runs your selection of a default or custom timer that will remind you of a 5 or 10 minute break. The setup is simplistic and not intrusive. During the screen, EVO can black out your screen and count down the time of your break.

reminder to take a break software

EVO also provides instructions for eye gymnastics that you can go through during your break.

reminder to take a break software


The creators of EVO have also launched a website that has information about the Computer Vision Syndrome.

Big Stretch Reminder (Windows)

Big Stretch Reminder is a reminder app designed to remind you to do regular stretches during your work day. It comes with a variety of options, including custom settings. You can select the time between breaks from a list of predefined options or create a custom setting.

reminder to take a break

For the reminder mode you can choose between a non-intrusive balloon mode or an intrusive popup mode. The third option, the micro-break mode, is of the intrusive popup type. The message that is shown along with your break reminder can be a random tip or customized.


reminder to take a break

Breaker (Windows)

If you’re a workaholic who has no trouble getting lost in work and forgetting the time, then you should try Breaker. It’s a simple software that lets you set up breaks individually in a loop or pattern.

reminder to take a break

The app runs in the system tray and when you hover over it you can see the countdown to your next break. Once the time has run out, a quiet alarm and a little window in the bottom right of the screen reminds you that it’s time for a break or to get back to work.


take a break reminder

Since Breaker allows the creation of custom patterns, it is also a great tool to easily remind yourself of meetings or appointments scattered throughout the day.

You can find more reminder apps here. For things to do during your breaks, check out the following articles:

MakeUseOf’s Web Developer James Bruce recently switched from a sitting to a standing desk – Take A Look At James’ Home Setup [Show & Tell] Take a Look at James' Home Setup [Show & Tell] Taking a break from our regular awesome software reviews and tutorials, I thought it’d be interesting if myself and some of the other staff writers here at MakeUseOf show you our own home setups -... Read More


What is your desk setup? Do you have experience working at a standing desk or could you imagine doing it?

Image credits: AISPIX

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  1. John Drew
    July 2, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    I've been using this one for years. Very configurable to your computing style and needs.

  2. Saikat Basu
    July 2, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    WorkRave was among my early posts when I started out with MUO. Here's the link -
    How To Save Your Neck & Back With Workrave.

    • Tina
      July 2, 2011 at 10:58 pm

      Now that you mention it...check my list at the bottom of the article, I actually included your piece about Workrave! :)

  3. Scott M Parrish
    July 1, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    Also for Windows and Linux

    • Tina
      July 2, 2011 at 1:46 pm

      Thank you for sharing, Scott!

      In case anyone is wondering: "Workrave is a program that assists in the recovery and prevention of Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI)."

    • Anonymous
      July 8, 2011 at 4:36 pm

      i unfortunately had to uninstall workrave.  it had a lot of problems with keeping the timer going and not actually triggering the breaks.

  4. Chcurtis
    July 1, 2011 at 4:43 am

    For Mac users -- there is a program called "Time Out" that will progressively grey out your screen. You can set it for minibreaks and/or regular breaks; duration and frequency of breaks can be defined. 

    • Tina
      July 2, 2011 at 1:45 pm

      Thansk for the tip, Curtis!