Avoid Repetitive Strain Injury With the Workrave App

A free app that will remind you at intervals during the working day to take a break – long or short – from your screen. We show you how it can help you stay fit.

Avoid Repetitive Strain Injury With the Workrave App

Open a web browser and visit Workrave’s website. Click the Free Download button followed by the MS Windows installer link.

This opens the sourceforge.net website, which hosts the file download. If the File Download Security Warning dialogue box appears, click Save and choose a location for the downloaded file.

Firefox users should select Save File to save the download to Firefox’s default download folder.

Now locate and double-click the downloaded file to install the program.

Follow the setup wizard, leaving ‘Start Workrave when Windows starts’ ticked in order to have the program running at all times. At the last stage, leave Launch Workrave ticked and click Finish.

A tiny window will appear on the Windows Desktop, indicating three countdown timers. The top timer (illustrated by the hand icon) refers to the next time a ‘micro-break’ is due.

Micro-breaks last 30 seconds and take place a maximum of once every three minutes.

While the computer is being used, the timer counts down towards zero, but this countdown is paused if there is no mouse or keyboard activity for a prolonged period (a minimum of six seconds) because Workrave recognises you are taking a mini-break.

When you resume activity, so does the timer.

When the countdown timer reaches zero, a warning screen will appear indicating that a micro-break is due shortly.

This will display for a maximum of 30 seconds. Shortly after you stop typing or moving the mouse, a Micro-break window will appear, instructing you to take a short break.

If it’s not a convenient time to do so, click Postpone to delay the prompt for 150 seconds, or click Skip to reset the timer back to three minutes.

If these timings seem arbitrary, they can be changed to suit. See Step 6 for details.

The middle timer indicates how long is left until an extended rest break is due. The default time is 45 minutes and unlike micro-breaks this is a straightforward countdown.

When the countdown finishes, or when you click the cup of tea icon or Micro-break window, an extended rest break of 10 minutes will start.

Workrave blocks access to other programs during the break and a series of suggested exercises will be displayed.

If you leave the computer unattended during the break, click Lock to lock the computer at the Windows logon screen.

The final timer is a daily-limit timer, which is designed for those who want to limit the amount of time they spend at their computer.

It’s switched on and set to four hours by default – that’s four hours’ of continuous activity, not four hours in total, so micro-breaks and extended rest breaks don’t count towards the limit.

When the warning dialogue box appears, either click Postpone to hide it for another 20 minutes, or close all open programs and finally click the Shut down button to switch off the computer.

To Configure Workrave’s settings, right-click the program icon in the Notification Area (Windows 10 users may have to click the up-pointing arrow to make it visible) and choose Preferences.

Workrave’s settings are split into three sections. Switch individual timers on or off, or change the timings (such as length of break) from the Timers section.

To prevent Workrave from blocking other programs during a rest break, select the User Interface section and change the Block mode setting from Block input to No blocking. The Network section allows you to monitor PCs on your network.