I’ve now worked (real world indexing work on the motor disorders book) with both the finalists on the ergonomic break timers for the last 30 days. Of all that I looked at, only RSIGuard and WorkPace™ seemed worth serious attention. Here’s what I found:
- Both offer settings that will let you customize how they interact with your work habits. There are questionnaires in both to help you decide what settings you need–prevention, rehabilitation, etc.
- Both give good stretch exercises include ones that were given to me by physical therapists in my post-surgical rehabilitation. The exercises are demonstrated and/or described for you, complete with where you should feel the effects if you are performing them properly. The RSIGuard has a verbal description as well as graphic demonstration of exercises, while WorkPace has graphic demonstration only.
- Both provide work intensity and compliance statistics–in fact both are intended for organizational use and allow managers/supervisors to assess compliance with the data provided, but both have individual licenses as well as organizational licenses.
- The work intensity information provided by RSIGuard is not easily used by individuals, where WorkPace provides very straight-forward information that is useful without much interpretation: each keystroke, in which software are most of you keystrokes, etc.
- Both provide some ergonomic tips–RSIGuard can make you aware of some of your work habits with “forget-me-not” questions associated with the micropauses–such as asking you about your wrist position while keyboarding, or if your posture is good, etc.
- Both can adjust settings manually as your needs change, and both allow you to select the degree of enforcement of breaks and micropauses.
- Both have a lengthy enough trial period for you to test them adequately.
- Both are licensed to the user, not to computer, so that they can be used on desktop and laptop by the same user.
…and the winner is WorkPace, even though it’s a bit more expensive ($89.00 versus $65.00). I liked the straight-forward, uncomplicated statistics, the flexibility in displaying data and the clear graphic demonstration of where you should feel the effects of the exercises. Another plus for WorkPace is that during breaks it displays keyboard shortcuts for Windows. I found the WorkPace just a bit less intrusive–it displays a single status panel (if you wish). The RSIGuard also displayed an additional minute-by-minute work intensity in a separate window which I found to be distracting and I found the signal for breaks and micropauses to be irritating. Were WorkPace not available, I’d certainly use the RSIGuard though.
So–after all that looking, I’m right back with the same program that I’ve used for since about 2001! Getting the program reinstalled has certainly made a difference in the comfort of indexing for five or six hours at a time. Micropauses DO make a huge difference.
I guess I should add a disclaimer here–no affiliate marketing, no commission for me from this–just a happy indexer with happy hands even with all the keyboarding–helps avoid those irritating wrist splints, even at night.