Did you know that someone was actually paid to research and discover the fact that women blink twice as often as men! I don’t think any technical writers were in that study. As a technical writer, I sit at a desk all day, rarely having the occasion to move anything but my head, eyes, hands, and arms. When I’m really focusing on something, I even forget to blink! I have alternating “runny” and dry, tired, red eyes.
I decided I need a reminder to stop working, stand up, move around—and blink! Microsoft Outlook does not have a way to set hourly reminders, but you can click Snooze > 1 hour each time a reminder appears; however, I’m more likely to click Dismiss. I didn’t want to bring an egg timer to work and have a loud DING go off every hour (I work in a cubicle). And if I set my phone alarm to go off every hour, that would be just as annoying to those around me. (If I set the alarm on “vibrate only,” I would probably assume it was a text message and ignore it.)
After some Googling (and finding some unhelpful advice to install a free program—on my work computer), I discovered a sane and doable solution: Windows Task Scheduler!
Using Task Scheduler, I created a task to pop up a reminder message every hour. Task Scheduler allows me to define the text that appears in the message box, when to start the task, when to finish the task, and how often to pop up the reminder.
I’ve provided the instructions below (Windows 7) for my fellow zombie cubicle ranchers. You need the proper privileges on the computer, of course. (I recently updated my desktop at work to Windows 7 64-bit and the GUIs look slightly different. So if your experience doesn’t exactly match mine, don’t fret. Read the instructions in dialog boxes and figure it out–don’t give up!)
To create an hourly reminder in Windows Task Scheduler
- Click Start, then in the search box type Schedule Tasks. (It will probably appear just by typing Sch.)
- In the list of programs, click Schedule Tasks. The Task Scheduler appears.
- In the Actions (right) pane, click Create Basic Task. The Create a Basic Task Wizard appears.
- Type a Name and Description for the task, then click Next. The Daily page of the wizard appears.
- Specify when the task it to Start and how frequently you want the task to Recur, then click Next. The Action page of the wizard appears.
- Click Display a message, then click Next. The Display a Message page of the wizard appears.
- Provide the Title and the Message that you want to appear on the message box, then click Next. The Summary page of the wizard appears. The Summary page displays the details of the task.
- Select the Open the Properties check box, then click Finish.
- Click the Triggers tab.
- In the Start boxes, set the date (if different from today) and the time. I set mine at 9 am.
- In the Advanced settings area, select the Repeat task every check box and set it to 1 hour.
- Click OK.
- Click OK again to complete the task. The new task appears in the list of tasks in the center pane of the Task Scheduler.
After you’ve created the task, you can make changes to it, test it, disable it, or delete it.
To edit, disable or delete the task
- Open the Task Scheduler.
- In the Active Tasks area, double click the task. A list of active tasks appears.
- Right-click the task, then click the action that you want to perform:
- Run—Allows you to run the task to ensure that it is working the way you want it (instead of waiting for the clock to run out).
- End—This stops a task that is in progress. Won’t need it for timed tasks like this one.
- Disable—Prevents the task from running until you enable it. (If you right-click a disabled task, this option changes to Enable.
- Export—Allows you to save the task to a file, and then you can import it into another computer.
- Properties—Opens a Properties dialog in which you can edit the task.
- Delete—Permanently removes the task from the Scheduler.
And there you have it—an hourly reminder! Every hour on the hour a message pops up to remind me to get up and move!
NOTE: I have not found a way to make the message pop to the front. If you are speedily typing and clicking away on the mouse, you might miss the message popping up. However, it will appear in your task bar and blink, like an IM will do. I have 2 monitors at work, and I’ve put the task bar vertically on the right, between the two monitors. I’m more likely to notice this message appear, as well as IMs, emails, error messages, etc.