cron: for your health

I have a standing desk, but rarely stand. I have probably been sitting about 7 hours a day, which is too much! In the spirit of positive nudges for habit building and taking ownership over my notifications, I wrote a simple cron job to remind me to stand up every hour.

Note that this is mac-specific, but a Linux or Windows analog should be fairly easy to implement.


#!/usr/bin/env sh

osascript -e 'display alert "Stand up and stretch!"'

When run, a popup will be created in the middle of my screen that looks like:


In order to run it periodically with cron, I ran crontab -e, then add this line to the file:

0 8-17 * * * ~/projects/cron/ > /dev/null 2>&1


  • 0 8-17 * * *: Run every hour from 8am to 5pm, every day (I use to create or parse these schedule expressions)
  • ~/projects/cron/ Path to my defined alert script
  • > /dev/null: Redirect stdout to /dev/null, i.e. discard it
  • 2>&1: Disable cron email by redirecting stderr to the same place as stdout, in this case /dev/null