What is a work restriction?
One sure way to avoid a repetitive strain injury (RSI) is to avoid activities that cause RSI. A work restriction enforces this idea by limiting the amount of computer work you do each day or per unit-time. With RSIGuard work restrictions, RSIGuard alerts you when you have reached your prescribed work limit. Although the limit is not strictly enforced, it makes keeping track of how much you are working very easy -- and your compliance is recorded as part of your DataLogger data.
If you have an RSI, your doctor may have suggested or required a work restriction in order for you to continue working. The most typical common work restrictions are:
RSIGuard can help you follow each of these types of restrictions, or a combination of them. If your doctor plans to give you a work restriction, we recommend that you print the graphs in UserInsight (click on the Tools menu of RSIGuard, select 'DataLoggerUsage Statistics', and select 'View Longterm Usage Statistics') to help him/her select a meaningful restriction. Without this kind of data, doctors must often make important decisions about your limitations with minimal information.
Setting up a limit on hours of activity per day
To setup a limit on how many hours of activity you can do per day on the computer, bring up the settings page (under the Setup menu, select Settings) and select the BreakTimer tab. Click on "Define a Work Restriction". You will see the following screen.
As shown above, RSIGuard will let you work for 4 hours before notifying you that you've reached your limit. Note that "hours worked" only includes time at the computer. So, if you work for 1 hour, then go to a 2 hour meeting, you still have 3 hours of work before reaching your limit of 4 hours.
If you configure this type of time-based work restriction, the main RSIGuard window will show you how much longer you have before you reach the restriction. In the example below, the user can work 23 more minutes before reaching their daily limit.
Setting up a dynamic daily time limit
In the screen shown below, the user has a variable-length work restriction -- meaning that on different days, the allowed length of computer activity varies.
There are two types of variable-length work restrictions.
The first lets you specify a different number of hours for each day of the week.
The second type lets RSIGuard adjust the limit each day based on what the user has been doing over the past several days. In the example shown above, for each day the user does not work, the limit is relaxed 45 minutes up to an upper maximum of 5 hours per day. For each day the user works, the restriction is tightened by 20 minutes down to a minimum of 3 and a half hours per day. This makes a dynamic work restriction that responds to how a user is working over the course of days.
Compensating for work intensity
Although a doctor normally orders a work restriction in terms of hours-of-work per day, this does not compensate for the variability of work intensity. For example, 4 hours of light web surfing is very different than 4 hours of intense data entry or graphics editing. By checking the Make work-restriction times compensate for work intensity setting, RSIGuard will not treat times literally, but instead in comparison to your typical average work hours. In other words, a restriction of 4 hours would restrict you to doing as much work as you do in 4 hours on average. If the you work less intensely than usual, you may be allowed to work 5 or 6 hours. If you work more intensely than usual, you may be limited to 2 or 3 hours. On average, you would still be limited to 4 hours per day.
Specifying keystroke and mouseclick limits
If you have been directed to limit your exposure to a total number of daily keystrokes or mouseclicks (or if you determine a level of keystrokes or mouseclicks that keeps you from feeling discomfort) you can specify this limit for RSIGuard to enforce as well.
The main display will show you the percentage of your limit you are currently at. When you reach 100%, RSIGuard will inform you that you have reached your limit. If you have both a keystroke/mouseclick limit and a time limit, the main display will alternate back and forth between showing this percentage and how much longer you have before you reach your time restriction.
Setting up a "minutes-of-activity per hour"
Another common type of work restriction limits how much activity you can do on the computer per unit-time. Most commonly, this is expressed as a maximum number of minutes per hour. For example, your doctor might restrict you to working no more than 30 minutes per hour. RSIGuard will let you define the limit and the period, so you can also limit yourself, for example, to 10 minutes out of every 30 minutes, or 180 minutes out of every 240 (3 out of every 4 hours).
In the example above. RSIGuard will limit you to 45 minutes of activity per hour (60 minutes).
If you enable this type of restriction, RSIGuard will display a status window that shows how much activity you have done, and how much you can still do. The status window looks like this:
If the "Hide status window" button is checked, this status window will only appear when you get close to reaching your limit. Otherwise, it will always be visible.
You can click anywhere on the Minute-By-Minute Work Restriction status window to see details about how you have been working. A sample of this detail window is show below:
When you reach your limit, the status window will move to the center of your screen to insure that you know your status. However, it will not prevent you from continuing to work. If you check "Start a stretch break when I exceed my restriction", RSIGuard will start a stretch break that is long enough to insure that you are no longer exceeding your limit. The break window does prevent you from working. You can still skip or postpone the break, but this is recorded in your DataLogger data. Be aware that the breaks can be long breaks. For example, if your restriction is 30 minutes of activity per hour, and you work for 30 minutes straight, the break will be a 30 minute break to prevent you from working more than 30 minutes during the hour.
Other types of work restrictions
Another common type of work restriction is a break regimen. For example, your doctor might require you to follow a pattern such as, work 20 minutes, rest 10 minutes, work 20 minutes, rest 10 minutes, etc.
You can configure this type of work restriction in a different part of BreakTimer's setup screen: