Folks, Give Your Eyes a Break

I work long hours looking at computer monitor(s). On certain days, the eye-strain used to get too heavy on my eyes and I couldn’t even look at people straight in the eye!

I needed some kind of reminder to pause, look away from the monitors, and maybe take a water break.

There are many programs that show cute pop-up reminders. But they are on the same screen that I’m trying to look away from in the first place! Also most of them are easy to ignore. I didn’t want a system lock screen because logging in frequently becomes an irritant after some time.

I’ve started using the good old Windows Task Scheduler along with the NirCmd utility by NirSoft. It is a simple EXE file and does not need any installation. While it can do a lot of useful stuff but I was interested in just turning the monitor on/off. Especially good if you work on laptops that don’t have dedicated on/off switch for monitors.

  • NirCmd.exe concise documentation and download page (scroll to the bottom to see both 32-bit and 64-bit versions).
  • NirCmd.exe extensive documentation page.

I extracted the 64-bit zip in my Downloads folder and created a simple batch file with the following commands –

CD "C:UsersAalam.RangiDownloadsnircmd-x64"
nircmd.exe speak text "Turning monitor Off in 5 seconds"
timeout 5
nircmd.exe monitor off
timeout 5
nircmd.exe speak text "Turning monitor on in 30 seconds"
timeout 30
nircmd.exe monitor on

Yes, it speaks too! Then I opened the Windows Task Scheduler and scheduled the batch file as a 30 minute job.

There you go! It turns off my monitor every 30 minutes for 30 seconds. I get up from my chair for a mini stretch, take a gulp of water, look at the farthest end of the room or maybe out of the window, while the monitor turns back on.

Now there could be some folks whose workplace enterprise policy won’t let them download an EXE file from Internet. You could use a screensaver instead. E.g. the following line in the batch file will trigger the Mystify screensaver. A reminder enough for the break. Also, if it is just going to be a single command then maybe you don’t even need a batch file. You can put this command in the scheduled task by itself.

@START /WAIT /MIN %windir%system32mystify.scr -s

The downside is that this job keeps running even after I’ve left my office. Might startle the janitor 🙂