Whenever I give a presentation at a college or conference, someone always asks the question.  You know.  THAT question.

“Just how much time do you spend at the computer every day?”

I’m not sure if I really don’t want to know, or I know, but I don’t want to acknowledge it.  It’s a lot.  In the last year I’ve gained a few pounds and that’s got to be reversed, so I’ve once again instituted the “Computer Lockdown” program (which my husband absolutely hates).


What is the “Computer Lockdown” program, you ask?  (well, thanks for asking)  It’s actually a software program called WorkPace designed to prevent RSI (repetitive strain injury).  After intensive periods of typing it locks the keyboard for a few seconds to force you to rest your fingers.  But that’s not the primary reason I use it.  The reason I use WorkPace is that I can force myself to take computer breaks.  My computer will actually lock me out and no amount of cajoling or rebooting will let me back in for 10 minutes.

This forces me to get up and walk around, maybe get a little exercise, give my dogs a good scratch, go out on the deck and get some sun … in other words, re-engage with the world.  This is a good thing.

Now, if that sounds scary to you (and if it does, you’ve probably got the same work-obsessed problem as me), you can decide just how forceful you want WorkPace to be.  Do you just want it to be annoying, but not lock you out?  Do you want mandatory lockout once an hour?  Or maybe you only want lockout after 10 hours in one day.  All these things can be adjusted.

If you don’t want to pay anything to have your comptuer lock you out, there’s another (similar) program called WorkRave, which is not as adjustible but does have a cuter logo.


I’ve tried both in the past, but liked WorkPace a little better (but I can’t exactly remember why).

There is one other aspect to this “mandatory break” thing that I really like.  Every hour I am forced to account (at least mentally) for what I actually accomplished in the last hour.  Did I wander aimlessly about the Internet?  Did I really focus on replying to student emails?  Do I need to regroup for my next hour of work?

Uh oh.  That’s my warning.  About to be …

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