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11 Mar

Eleven things you can do when the system is down

Datum: 2014-03-11 10:04
Notepad with an in rollerball pen, placed on a wooden desk. An iPad in the top left corner and a glimpse of a MacBook in the top right.

You know how it is. You are just about to fin­ish that par­tic­u­lar­ly impor­tant task and just then the IT-sys­tem shuts down. Just then the oper­at­ing sys­tem begins run­ning updates and has 26 more to com­plete before you can pro­ceed work­ing. Just then the com­put­er crash­es. Or the lap­top runs out of bat­tery and there just so hap­pens to be no out­lets on the train you are sit­ting on.

For you who pre­fer lis­ten­ing to read­ing, this post is also avail­able as a pod­cast episode:

You feel that awful frus­tra­tion that comes so eas­i­ly when we are moti­vat­ed to work on a task but some­thing in our cir­cum­stances con­sti­tutes an obsta­cle to our progress.

The result of this can be stress, weari­ness and some­times even anger.

But, do not give up yet. If we want to, there is always a con­struc­tive solu­tion to this type of dilem­ma. If we can man­age feel­ing that we are pro­gress­ing in some­thing, even if it hap­pens to be in some­thing we had not intend­ed to work on right now, we can avoid the frus­tra­tion and end up feel­ing in more con­trol of our sit­u­a­tion than we oth­er­wise would.

This is what you can do

Here are eleven exam­ples of what you can do with a sheet of paper if you do not have access to your com­put­er and still want to make use of the time at hand.

  • For­mu­late e‑mails you know you have to write.
  • Make a more detailed draft of that bright idea you had the oth­er day but which you did not have time to devel­op fur­ther at the time.
  • Out­line the agen­da for that cru­cial meet­ing you have next week.
  • Take a moment to think about those who are close to you and what they might need right now in their lives.
  • Ana­lyze that com­pli­cat­ed project you were made respon­si­ble for yes­ter­day and sift out the next steps you need to take.
  • Think about your long-term vision, for instance of how you want a day like today to be in five years.
  • Make a list of the tasks you could del­e­gate to others.
  • Make a list of peo­ple you could del­e­gate things to (which might in turn make it eas­i­er to think of things you could delegate).
  • Cir­cle what tasks on your to-do-list which you, and no one else, can complete.
  • Think of the first, con­crete step you could take to get start­ed on the leav­en that keeps annoy­ing you, in oth­er words, the task you nev­er seem to get start­ed on.
  • Take a deep breath, gaze into space and relax for a few minutes.

Now do this

  1. Now make your own list of things you could do in a sit­u­a­tion like this on a piece of paper. These might be the exam­ples I men­tioned above as well as oth­er things you come to think of which are more appro­pri­ate to you and your work.

  2. Put the note in a place in your bag or brief­case where it is pro­tect­ed enough to remain there for a while with­out get­ting torn or wrinkled.
    And no, even if you are a fan of dig­i­tal for­mats this list should not be on your com­put­er or smart­phone. The device you cre­ate the list on might be the very one that dies or stops work­ing when you need the list.

  3. When­ev­er you feel the frus­tra­tion ris­ing when you are unable to access your dig­i­tal devices, take out the note and do some­thing con­struc­tive instead.

Might be a bless­ing in disguise

If you make use of the excel­lent tools con­sti­tut­ed by a reg­u­lar pen and a piece of paper, you will be able to progress even when you at first felt obstruct­ed by not hav­ing dig­i­tal access. You might even get things done which you have post­poned doing for much too long.

It might even be the case that being with­out your com­put­er makes you do what­ev­er it is that pre­pares you thor­ough­ly for that big pre­sen­ta­tion in a cou­ple of weeks. Per­haps you even get so much done that you do not have to sit up late the night before and pre­pare this time. 

What is you trick?

What do you usu­al­ly do in order to not be obstruct­ed in your progress when the sys­tem is down? Please tell me!

(Some­times, it’s not the IT equip­ment that stops you, but that you are con­stant­ly inter­rupt­ed when you need to focus. Here are eleven more things you can do to work more undis­turbed.)

By the way, if you want more tips on how to cre­ate good struc­ture at work — here are many ways to get just that.