Need a break? Change your keyboard layout

Regular breaks during the workday are known to be beneficial to workers’ productivity and health, but do you need to be locked out of your computer to make you step away for a few minutes?

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There are simple tools you can use to remind yourself at regular intervals to take five. Most of these are really just timers that you can configure to give you a heads up that it’s time to look away from the computer screen. Some application will even take it a step farther and darken or block your screen or some such thing to force you to look away. Still, these types of applications can be easily ignored or overridden when you’re deep in a pile of work droppings.

There’s one developer, though, who’s taken regular, enforced breaks even further. Simon Jackson wrote last month about a tool he came up with that will regularly lock him out of his Mac for a set period of time in a way that makes it much more of pain to ignore and override. You can read his post for the details (and instructions for how to implement his approach yourself) but let’s just say it involves changing the keyboard layout. Interesting (and clever) stuff.

As for me, I’m a big fan of regular breaks during the work day. But I have a different strategy for making sure I take them: they’re all based around eating. Whether it’s my mid-morning granola bar, my late morning piece of fruit, lunch time, my early afternoon noshing, mid-afternoon pretzel break or late afternoon fridge-rummaging, I get my breaks in, for sure. And if I don’t, my stomach will protest loudly.

How about you? Do you make sure to take regular breaks during the work day? Do you have a special system or tool to make sure you do? Please share in the comments.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time for a snack.

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