“Whether the task is writing, design, or hanging a picture straight, it is obvious that we do our best work when healthy, rested, refreshed alert and eager to do the job for its own sake.”
– Jeffrey Zeldman
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Staying long hours in front of a computer can lead to dire consequences. Computer screens emit a blue light that can mess with your sleepingpatterns, and it can also cause blur vision, headaches, or other eye problems. I don’t even want to get into how staying in front of the computer can lead to severe back problems that will haunt you for the rest of your life, but hey, we gotta do what we gotta do.
Well, we are here to tackle one problem at a time, so we are going to start with reducing computer eye strain. We have rounded up 8 free tools for you to try, see what fits you the best, and try to live a healthier life, even though you spend 24/7 in front of the computer.
F.Lux is a cool tool that helps reduce eye strain by making your computer screen look like the room you are in. It coordinates with your time zone, and at night time it dims the light, so you don’t have that sensation of eerie blue glow. In the morning it makes your computer screen look just like outside – it’s like getting its light source directly from the sun. F.Lux is available for OSX, Windows, Linux and iOS. Yes, you caught that right. It means you can also install it on your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. Cool, ain’t it?
Awareness helps you keep track on how much time you are spending in front of your computer. Every hour it plays a sound of Tibetan singing bowl, and it suggests you to take a five minute break. Awareness will not interrupt your work, neither will it spam the sound – it is only audible every hour. You can choose whether to listen to it, or not. It also displays how long you have been using your computer without taking a break. Awareness senses when you are taking a break, so don’t worry about false stats. It is available for Windows, and OSX 10.6 or later.
3. Time Out Free
Time Out Free is an app available only for OSX 10.5.0 or later. Time out literally gives you a time out once in a while. You can edit it when to pop up on your computer screen. It has two kinds of breaks though. The Normal Break that is a 10 minute pause after 50 minutes of working so you can get up from your chair and stretch a little bit, watch something in the distance, get a cup of coffee or just a glass of water, take a bathroom break and then come back. And it also has the Micro Break – it occurs every 10 minutes and it pauses everything for 10 seconds.
To be honest, I don’t like this micro break at all. I mean, I get working for 50 minutes and being in the zone and finishing a task, but to annoy me every 10 minutes, pausing everything is a big no for me – i don’t think I’ll try it. Oh, and don’t worry, if you really have too much work to do, and you already set up your app to pause the screen, you can always skip it, or postpone it. It doesn’t interrupt your daily work at all. You choose whether or not to listen to it.
Shades is a free app available for OSX 10.7 or later, and it is like truly putting a pair of shades on your face. Maybe you are working in a dark room, probably at night, in bed, with your laptop in your lap, and your loved one right near you. Of course you don’t want to disturb your SO, so why not get Shades?
PangoBright utility works great on Windows XP, Vista and 7. You can control multiple monitors with PangoBright, so if you are thinking about that presentation that you have to make tomorrow, and you need to dim the lights you absolutely need PangoBright – it dims your laptop screen, but leaves the VGA output at full brightness on your projector. It is also great for nightclubs, if you are into DJ-ing, or for about anyone that works with multiple monitors.
EyeLeo is a tool that will definitely help not only those who have a tight schedule, but workaholics also. It has this cool mode, and if you enable it, it will force you to take breaks. It’s called – The Strict Mode. It blocks your screen every hour so you can take a decent break, it also has an option where it offers you short breaks and tips on how you can perform eye exercises, a notification pops up when it’s getting closer and closer to the break, multi-monitor support, and of course you have customizable parameters.
Ow, I almost forgot. You have this cute little lion cub that will appear on your screen.
No, not Khaleesi, Calise. It uses your webcam and it detects your ambient light so it can use it for your monitor. It is based on what weather is outside, what time it is, so it can be perfectly optimized for your needs. Calise is available for Linux. Hoping that a version for Windows will come in shortly
8. Protect Your Vision
Protect Your Vision is an extension available for Google Chrome, and Mozilla Firefox. It sets up notifications on your desktop so you know when to take a break and relax for a moment. Notifications will appear in the right lower corner, and you have the options to enable or disable the alarm sounds.
We would love to hear what you are using to reduce computer eye strain. Whether it is a tool, or just simply auto-control. Tell us in the comments section bellow.