You know that staring at the screen for too long isn’t good for your health or your eyesight, but it’s easy to get sucked in. Use these apps to get a reminder to take a break from screen time, and take care of your health.
Continuous screen usage can lead to severe eye strain, neck pain in the cause of phones, and sitting too long causes health issues too. It’s also surprisingly easy to avoid all these problems by simply switching off every once in a while. Usually, a reminder is all you need, and that’s .
Stretchly (Windows, macOS, Linux): Simple Reminder for Micro and Long Breaks
For most people, Stretchly is the break reminder that will change how you use the computer. The app enables both micro-breaks as well as scheduled long breaks that will keep you focussed.
A small popup will let you know before it’s time to take a break, and then remind you when it’s time. One of the nicer features of Stretchly is that you can skip to the next break or micro-break at any time, in case you feel like stopping right now and not later. The micro-break is every 10 minutes, for 20 seconds, where the app recommends a few stretches to keep your body healthy. Every 30 minutes, it suggests a longer 5-minute break.
You can naturally customize the duration of micro-breaks and long breaks, as well as how long a break should last. In fact, Stretchly can even become a simple Pomodoro timer to be more productive.
In case you don’t want to take a break, you can skip the prompt and continue working. But if you do this too often, you’re putting your own health at risk. You might want to enable the “strict mode” to ensure you stick to the breaks.
Eye Care 20 20 20 (Android, iOS): Put Down Your Mobile
The screens of computers and phones are backlit, casting their light into your eyes. Over time, this can take a toll. In fact, you should check if you have the tell-tale signs of computer eye strain.
Eye Care 20 20 20 is a mobile app to relieve this eye strain using an age-old technique. The idea is that every 20 minutes of using a screen, look at something 20 feet away, for no less than 20 seconds. Apparently this is the relief your eyes need to stay healthy and not get dry.
The Eye Care 20 20 20 app will simply give you simple reminders when the time comes, and not mess around more than that. By that, we mean it isn’t reliant on whether the screen has been on for all of those 20 minutes or not, that reminder is coming.
You can dive into the app’s settings to customize it further, so that you can either manually start it or set it to start automatically at a certain time every day.
Outstanding [No Longer Available] (Web): Web App for Reminders to Stand Up
If you don’t want to install Stretchtly (or can’t install it for whatever reason), then Outstanding is the simplest way to get those timely reminders. It’s a free web app that works with any modern browser with notifications.
Go to the website and you can choose how often you want to get a reminder (15 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes, or one hour). You can also set how long you should stand up (30 seconds to five minutes) before getting another reminder to get back to work. It’s a simple timer that will keep you on track with ensuring you don’t spend too much time in your office chair.
Since it’s a browser-based app, for Outstanding to work, you will need to enable notifications in case you have disabled browser notifications.
Unhook (Android): Set Screen Time Limits, And Walk to Get More Time
Unhook is the most different app in this list. It doesn’t have reminders to take breaks, but instead, it forces breaks upon you.
Here’s how it works. You set a daily time limit for different types of screen usage, such as social apps, video streaming, and games. Once you cross the limit you set, Unhook makes you walk to unlock more time. For every 100 steps that you walk, you will get 10 minutes of extra usage time on the phone. The data is gathered through the built-in Google Fit on Android, which you can sync with any of your favorite fitness apps as well..
Don’t worry, it isn’t an intrusive and strict app. When you really need to browse your phone but can’t be bothered with those extra steps, you can switch off Unhook and continue using the phone as usual. But use this sparingly, it’s all about self-discipline.
Download: Unhook for Android (Free)
Micro Breaks (Chrome): Customizable Reminder for Multiple Breaks
If you use Google Chrome, don’t look further than this little extension for all your break reminders. Micro Breaks is the simplest and best tool for the job.
By default, there are a few reminders already set for healthy habits. This includes:
- Breathing: Breathe in and out to manage stress, for 2 minutes, every 2 hours.
- 20/20/20: Prevent digital eye strain by looking at something 20 feet away, for 20 seconds, every 20 minutes.
- Break: A simple break, for 6 minutes, every 80 minutes.
- Exercise: Stand up and stretch to relieve muscles, for 2 minutes, every hour.
Micro Breaks also lets you set up any custom reminders you might want, and it’s all free. This is hands down the simplest implementation of a timer reminder in Chrome. Nonetheless, you might want to check out other excellent Chrome extensions to keep you healthy at your desk.
Download: Micro Breaks for Chrome (Free)
Fix Your Posture Quickly
These apps solve that important problem of getting a reminder to regularly take a break from your computer or phone screen. But they don’t always tell you what to do when you take those breaks.
We’ve got a few suggestions on unique ways to recharge with a break, whether it’s a long one or a micro-break. One of the best options for desk workers is to try out this 3-minute exercise to fix your posture. You can do it anywhere, and it doesn’t look so weird that the whole office will stare at you.
If you’re looking for more help with screen time limits on your iPhone or iPad, check out the Guided Access feature.