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You deserve a break

Please intelligently detect natural breaks like Workrave for Windows and Linux

I recently had to switch to a Mac at work and was disappointed to find that Workrave is not available on Mac OS. TimeOut is the closest app I could find, but it doesn't work nearly as well. Workrave intelligently tracks natural breaks. For example, suppose my break timer is supposed to pop up a 2-minute break every 20 minutes and my work pattern for some random period of time looks like this:

email 5 mins
discussion away from laptop 15 mins
coding 35 mins
restroom 4 mins
coding 15 mins
Total: 74 mins

Here's the same level of activity with TimeOut breaks:

email 5 mins
discussion away from laptop 15 mins
Interruption: TimeOut forces break 2 mins
coding 20 mins
TimeOut forces break 2 mins
coding 15 mins
restroom 4 mins
coding 1 min
Interruption: TimeOut forces break 2 mins
coding 14 mins
Total: 80 mins

As you can see, TimeOut adds 6 mins worth of breaks to my schedule. But that's not the bad part. TimeOut *always* interrupts me shortly after I return to work after a natural break.

Here's the same level of activity with Workrave breaks:

email 5 mins
discussion away from laptop 15 mins (Workrave detects natural break is longer than break time, resets timer, and waits for me to return)
coding 20 mins
Workrave forces break 2 mins
coding 15 mins
restroom 4 mins (Workrave detects natural break, resets timer, and waits for me to return)
coding 15 mins
Total: 76 mins

Notice that Workrave only added one 2-minute break to my schedule. It detected 2 natural breaks and avoided interrupting me twice. In contrast, recall that TimeOut prevented me from getting back to work immediately after my discussion, and later interrupted me after only 1 minute of work.

One might suggest clicking the "skip break" button in both those cases to avoid those interruptions. I've tried this, and the result is that TimeOut trains me to click "skip break" all the time out of habit, and I rarely end up actually taking any breaks.

Another solution is to use TimeOut's "Reset if idle" feature, but I've tried it and it doesn't seem to work very well because TimeOut frequently interrupts me shortly after I return from a natural break.

Please add natural break detection to TimeOut.

David Sinclair's picture

Re: Please intelligently detect natural breaks like Workrave ...

Hi,

Thank you for that very clear request. You'll be pleased that this is something that I want to do in Time Out 2 (currently in alpha testing), though I haven't got to yet.

In the meantime, you could adjust the reset interval; it defaults to 10 minutes, but you might prefer a shorter time.