When your brain is warped, the easy thing to do is zone out on social media, checking to see what Chrissy Teigen had for dinner last night or finding out which Game of Thrones character you are. You tell yourself, "I need this." Sure, fine. But know that you're not really recharging.
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Taking care of yourself isn't just a reward, it's part of the process. Breaks help you regain focus and come back to work with a fresh perspective, which is why doing nothing is sometimes the most productive thing you can do. Force yourself to recharge by scheduling a "Do Nothing Day."
We often discuss the importance of taking breaks to be more productive, but the folks at PayScale have put together a great explanation for exactly why you shouldn't work more than 90 minutes at a time. It all has to do with our basic rest activity cycle.
Mac: Taking regular breaks is crucial not only to your well-being but also to your output. There are plenty of apps out there to remind you to get up from your computer every now and then, but Aware is a little different in that it simply tells you how long you've been working.
You probably already know that taking breaks is essential to staying productive. But what should you actually do with those breaks? Diving into a good book can help keep your brain stimulated, while giving you a chance to step back from your work.
It's important to pull yourself away from work every now and then. Breaks are one thing, but distractions are another. Breaks are focused and deliberate. Distractions catch you off guard and derail your task entirely. In fact, one study shows it takes about 25 minutes to get back into the swing of things after you've been interrupted.
Windows: We've discussed lots of apps that remind you to take periodic breaks to rest your eyes and save your sanity, but most of them have been for the Mac. Windows users can get in on the fun with EyeLeo, a completely free download that doesn't just remind you when it's time to take a break, but also dims your screen so you actually get up from the computer and go do something else.
Chrome: We've discussed the 20-20-20 Rule before, where every 20 minutes you take a 20 second break and look at an object 20 feet away to relieve eyestrain and rest your eyes. The 20 Cubed add-on for Chrome will automatically remind you to take those breaks so you don't have to set your own timer.
Mac: We've discussed how important it is to take breaks and get up from the computer regilarly, and we love apps that help you do it. Coffee Break for Mac is one of those apps, but instead of just reminding you every so often to take a break, you can schedule the breaks whenever it suits. When it's break time, the app will darken your computer screen for the duration of your break so you can't just ignore it.
Windows only: Eye Relax is a small Windows application that reminds you to take a break from the computer and give your eyes a much needed break. Many programs designed as break reminders are simply timers under a different name, but Eyes Relax has a host of unique features that put it one step beyond. In addition to the basic setup, where you plug in your work period and break time lengths, you can also customise how Eyes Relax shows up to enforce eyeball rest: a balloon tip in the system tray, a screen blank-out, or a pre-selected image pop-in. There's also a "parent mode" where you can set a password to lock the reminder screen—which would certainly put an end to dinner-time calls of "Just five more minutes!" One of the handiest features by far however is the ability to save the settings as profiles. When you're poring over minute edits and restoration in Photoshop, for example, it fatigues your eyes much quicker than casual web browsing. Eye Relax is freeware, Windows only.