Force Yourself To Take Breaks By Changing The Keyboard Layout

Breaks are an important part of the day. If you're too busy powering through work without them, you will stress yourself out needlessly. Blogger Simon Jackson was so bad at taking breaks he had to come up with an extreme solution: locking himself out of his computer and changing the keyboard layout.

There are less sadistic ways to remind yourself to take breaks, such as those offered by Awareness, Eyeleo or Coffee Break. But these options are all too easy to disable. Jackson's method is a lot tougher to get around:

  1. Once activated, the script will launch the screensaver and simultaneously lock the computer.
  2. Next, the script launches a little command line utility changeInput that swaps out your current keyboard layout to the Dvorak layout
  3. At this point, if you try to simply type in your password normally it will fail.
  4. Once the predetermined break time is up, changeInput will return your keyboard to its original layout

With Jackson's method, you need to know the Dvorak layout of a keyboard to get back in. Obviously, this is an extreme example, but it might be worth a shot if everything else has failed for you. After all, taking breaks is integral for staying motivated, sleeping better and maintaining productivity.

Find out how to implement this for yourself over on Jackson's site. His tutorial for setting this up only applies to Macs, but it shouldn't be too hard to reproduce on Windows as well.

How I Force Myself to Take Breaks [miniArray via Hacker News]


    I'm not too sure how well this would work on Windows... I have Dvorak and QWERTY enabled on my Windows machine and switch between which one is activated. It is possible to change the activated layout on the login screen when you have multiple layouts enabled (ctrl + shift will cycle between enabled layouts.) If the script enabled Dvorak, activated it to be the current layout then disabled QWERTY it could work, but it'd be awkward if the script didn't complete to change it back (power failure maybe?) You could find a Dvorak layout screenshot and work out what keys your password is in the worst case scenario.

      A better way on Windows may be to use a program like AutoHotKey ( that messes with your keystrokes. For example, the following script would type 'a' every time you type 'n':

      Send a

      If you did it with enough characters, you could make your password impossible to type no matter how many keyboard layouts you know.

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