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January 19, 2010

Gmail Addict? Take a Break!

Those of us who work on computers all day can sometimes forget to take regular breaks.

Apart from the health issues of sitting in a confined position for too long, we can become a slave to the PC if we’re not careful. Consistently checking email, always being available for online chat, logging into various social networks – all these activities can distract you from the important work that needs to be done each day.

But for Gmail users at least, there is a simple solution available. You may not have noticed, but those clever characters behind Google Labs added a special feature to Gmail last year called “Email Addict”.

When enabled, Email Addict adds a *Take a Break* link to the Gmail navigation at the top right of the screen. When you click on the link, it pops up a message on your screen that says:

“Take a walk, get some real work done, or have a snack. We’ll be back in 14 minutes.”

The message fills the screen and prevents you from accessing the application for 14 minutes. It also makes you invisible in chat.

To activate Email Addict, simply:

1) Login to your Gmail account
2) Click on the *Settings* link at the top right
3) Click on the *Labs* tab on the right
4) Scroll down to find *Email Addict* and enable using the radio button

It’s a nice idea, but you have to manually click on the link to activate it. If you have to remember to take a break and be motivated enough to click the link, it defeats the purpose a little bit, don’t you think? I’d prefer if you could set your own timeframe for breaks and have the pop up activate automatically.

Maybe they’ll add that option in the next version.