Take the Big Stretch Reminder

Remind yourself to take breaks with this free reminder utility.

If you're reading this, there's a very high probability that you're what's known as a computer user, which Webster defines as "an individual at elevated risk for repetitive stress injuries (RSI)" such as carpal tunnel syndrome, not to mention other physiological stresses like eyestrain and neck pain. Your doctor and your mother will both tell you the same thing: you're spending way too much time in front of that computer, and you should take regular stretch breaks. That's where a tool like Big Stretch Reminder comes in. This simple, free utility interrupts you at regular, predetermined intervals, prompting you to take a break and offering random RSI-prevention messages like "Have a Tea Break!" or a message of your own. You can set a sound alert and a countdown reminder in the system tray.

Big Stretch's general settings begin with configuring the time between breaks, either from a drop-down list of predefined regular intervals or by clicking Custom and scrolling to an exact time. We could enter a custom message under Message Content or check Show random tip and configure reminder as a balloon, pop-up, or a micro-break lasting from a minute to an hour. We set a 2-minute Micro Break and pressed Show Example, which previewed our break. The small dialog showed a random tip, a green progress bar, and our break's remaining time in minutes and seconds. We could click buttons labeled Postpone 2 mins to accommodate unexpected interruptions or Skip Break to just get back to work. The audible reminders somewhat betray the software's U.K. origins: Beep, Ding Dong, Pipes, and Tea Time. We could set various other options such as stopping reminders when the computer is idle. Once it's set, though, Big Stretch does its thing automatically and on cue.

It's only fair that software should help mitigate some of the physical stress hardware inflicts on peopleware. Tools like Big Stretch can help maximize your ergonomic health and efficiency, reducing injuries and aggravation, too. Frequent short breaks can make a difference, if you could only remember them and bring yourself to take them. Take our advice: take a big leap and download Big Stretch Reminder.

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