BreakTime: A Timed Recess From Your Computer

You know how everybody says you’re supposed to take about a short break from the computer every hour if you want to keep your sanity? Chances are you’ve heard of this but don’t really practice it. Time moves differently while you are working on a computer, and sometimes it’s hard to keep track of how long you’ve been in front of the screen.

Today we are reviewing an app called BreakTime that reminds you of when you are supposed to take breaks from the computer. But how well does it work at keeping you away from the computer once you have those scheduled breaks? Let’s see.

How Does It Work?

In Action

In Action

BreakTime is a very lightweight and simple app that sits in your menu bar, quietly counting away the minutes until you need to take a break from your computer. You have a few settings that you can tweak to decide how often you want to take your breaks and how long you want them to last. After you tweak them, the clock will start counting away the minutes until your next scheduled break. You can check the time left until your next break by clicking on the menu bar icon, which will also show you an on/off button and a progress bar.

 

Break Time

Break

Break

A few seconds before your break starts, the clock will automatically show a countdown so that you are aware that your computer is going to be disabled for a little while. Once the countdown is over, your screen will fade out a little and in the center you’ll be shown a “break window” with a small progress bar, some snooze buttons with one, five and ten minute settings and a “Done” button which will disable the break. After your set time is done, the progress bar will turn from blue to green, but the clock will keep going.

 

Now, there are two ways to go around using this app. If you use the “Enforce” mode, you won’t be able to quit a break in the middle, in fact, you can do nothing but wait until the break is over. If you do not activate this feature, then you can stop the break anytime you’d like. There’s also a very cool feature where the app will monitor your activity, and if it doesn’t detect any, then it will reschedule your breaks as it thinks you’ve already taken them (you can deactivate this feature if you’d like).

Do You Need It?

Preferences

Preferences

If you spend a lot of time on the computer because of your job (I’m pretty sure I just described all of you), and are concerned about your mental/physical health during your work hours, then you could give this app a try and see if you enjoy the little breaks it “enforces” you to take. I like to think of it as a little game where you have to work as much as you can before the clock runs out and if you run out of time, it allows you to do other interesting stuff while you are on a break.

 

You should be careful with how you use your break times. If you are going to use them to check your phone or make some advances on your newest iPhone game, then it really isn’t doing much work at keeping you away from the screen, but distracting you from your work. Sure, finding some time to check on your messages or playing a little game might be useful at dealing with stress, but ideally you’d want to use this time to take a break from electricity altogether and go find a glass of water, someone to talk to, and you know, stretch your legs.

You should also be careful if this app is making you less productive at work. People work differently, and I know a lot of people (me included) that find it very hard to concentrate on something after they have been interrupted at it. When I used this app, once the break started I tended to end my “productivity time” and once the break was over I would use the time to check my Twitter feed and my email before going back to work.

Conclusion

I’m always a fan of these type of strange apps that want to help you do something like focus more on what you are doing or keep you away from working or procrastinating too much. The thing is, I always use them for just a little while and then I get bored with them and they end up getting lost in my Applications folder.

For example, FocusBar seemed like a good idea at first, but I haven’t really used it since a few days after I got it. Granted, these two are different type of apps, but they fall into the same kind of weird productivity app category.

I could see myself using this app for a few days and being excited about it, but once the novelty was over I’d probably just go back to not using it. It’s a pleasure to use, the design is nice, the idea behind it is great and the details included in it are all well-thought, which makes it not be as annoying as it could; but I just think with time this app would become a burden and it’d be something else to distract me from doing real work. It’s a good idea, but it’s probably not for me, and especially not for the type of work that I do, which needs a lot of concentration for long periods of time. What about you? What do you think of these type of apps? Would you use this app, or do you use anything similar?


Summary

BreakTime is a lightweight app that sits in your menu bar, ready to remind you of when to take breaks away from your computer.

8
  • http://copperseed.co.za Ashraf

    There’s a free one on the App Store called Time Out Free. Although not as pretty, it’s free and gets the job done.

    • http://about.me/jorgerdz Jorge Rodriguez

      Good suggestion!

  • Jane

    Beautiful walpaper on the first 2 screenshots, where did you get it from?

    • http://about.me/jorgerdz Jorge Rodriguez

      It is pretty cool. I use an app called Wallpaper Wizard which changes my background every few minutes, so I don’t really know where it is but somebody already answered.

  • Paulo Jorge Góis

    I too love the wallpaper on the first 2 screenshots. Please tell me where this is, or where did you get that picture. thank you.

  • Japantoy

    I first purchased Break Time it is very good. But another app called Break Timer has way more options and is the same price. Much better deal and a lot more customizable.

  • Felix

    Wallpaper: This is Manarola, Italy. Here you go: http://wfiles.brothersoft.com/m/manarola_italy_59017-1920×1200.jpg

  • Salim Kahn

    I purchased signature and I must agreed the review posted here is retarded. Not even sure how a reviewer could even get close to this result, unless it was on purpose.

    • Vinay Bhat

      Retarded means physically disabled. Is should not be used as an adjective for/or be used as a metaphor for anything bad. It is insulting.

      Although I do understand that not all people in this world have English as their first languages, I would just like to help you by saying that it is “agree” not “agreed”.

      • Vinay Bhat

        *It

        My bad.

  • William Salas

    I have always used

    http://www.dejal.com/timeout/

    Its always been free.

  • Ragnar

    I smoke, I don’t need an app to take a break every now and then. Though I do admit having an app is slightly healthier.

  • Tom

    “I could see myself using this app for a few days and being excited about it, but once the novelty was over I’d probably just go back to not using it.”

    I think you miss the point with quoted statement (although I definitely see your later point about concentration too) – working with computers gets you easily immersed into what you’re doing and it’s exactly this sustained unnatural positions we hold for prolonged time that may result with temporary or even permanent damage to the body: wrists, spine, eyes etc. Although these kinds of apps do have effect of deconcentrating you as mentioned in review, they offer much needed relief by reminding us to do regular breaks.

    Being programmer, I spend countless hours behind the computer, and this started having an effect on my eyesight and wrists, so I started using anti RSI software. At first it did annoy me a bit by deconcentrating me, but I prioritized my health, so persisted and now I don’t notice any effect on concentration. I even find it useful to have few minutes break every hour where I can step out of the problem I’m solving at the moment, close my eyes and think about it in a “big picture”. So when I start working again, I’m ready.

    That being said, there are couple of free/payed apps I’ve been using with time: Dejal Timeout as someone mentioned already, AntiRSI (the original http://tech.inhelsinki.nl/antirsi/ but I prefer Nicholas Riley’s updated version http://sabi.net/nriley/software/, lately I also noticed original author sells it on MAS for $6 http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/antirsi/id442007571?mt=12). On the upper level there’s MacBreakZ (http://www.publicspace.net/MacBreakZ/) selling for $20, also available on MAS as BreakZ – seems most feature complete, it’s what I’m using now – like it a lot, although I find it’s prefs a bit too complicated.

    Anyway, just my 2 cents :)

  • http://www.networkability.org collaboration software

    Nice App. I want to test free version :)

    • JD

      do that. download the trial-version from the developers website.

  • http://www.iomundo.com/ software solutions

    It is an interesting application. I will use it and I will be back with a review.

  • abas

    Try Macbreakz its the best one out there it even suggest stretches during breaks, i have been using it since i bought mac,

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