This week two major work deadlines and a minor family crisis combined to create a perfect storm of stress. My response was to work very hard (including getting up at 5.30am to edit a document), but I could feel the effects in my shoulders and wrists. I tried switching my mouse from the right to the left-hand side of the keyboard (certainly slows me down!), and added some of the functions I was using repeatedly to the quick access toolbar in Word. However, I realised I needed to do something to ensure that I take regular breaks when I’m busy.
I had a look at various programs online, and chose Break Reminder – computer software that aims to prevent RSI by forcing you to take a micropause every few minutes and a complete break every hour or so. You can adjust the settings, but the recommended micropause is for 20 seconds every 3 minutes, and the break is for 10 minutes about once an hour. During the micropause, the screen goes black and a stretching exercise appears in a window. I’m finding the micropauses a bit disruptive (the time between them seems to flash past), and often find myself pressing the ‘Ignore’ button when the pause appears. This week I’ll try extending the time between the micropauses to about 5 minutes. I assume it’s better to have a longer time between pauses and actually stop when they occur, than to have a shorter time and be constantly ignoring them!