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17 Jun

Let “for now” have a clear expiration date

Datum: 2024-06-17 07:10
A wooden labyrinth game with a metal ball near the "Finish" area.

Tech­nol­o­gy enables us to work almost any­where. We are less and less lim­it­ed to a par­tic­u­lar desk at a cer­tain office to get our tasks done.

For you who pre­fer lis­ten­ing to read­ing, this post is also avail­able as an episode of the Done!” pod­cast:

Trou­ble­some technology

But some­times things are not work­ing the way you want them to. For some mys­te­ri­ous rea­son, the files you have on your com­put­er are not sync­ing prop­er­ly with where you store them online. You have pre­vi­ous­ly been able to reach the doc­u­ments at work” from home seam­less­ly, but now some­thing has hap­pened and you can­not access them anymore.

You have asked the IT-depart­ment for assis­tance but have not been helped yet. You are head­ing some­where — per­haps going on a work trip, attend­ing an exter­nal meet­ing, work­ing over­time in the evening at home or some­thing like it — and now you sim­ply must be able to reach those doc­u­ments which you are com­plete­ly depen­dent on and need in order to do what you need to do.

Only for now”?

This is when you place them in an eas­i­ly acces­si­ble loca­tion just for now”, in the mean­time, so you can be cer­tain that you will be able to do what you have planned to. You might put them on the com­put­er desk­top, attach them to an email you send to your­self, on a USB-stick or in the Cloud-ser­vice you use pri­vate­ly (since for some rea­son, you are able to reach that ser­vice even though the one you need sim­ply will not cooperate).

It turned out to be a good call. Every­thing worked out fine and now it is Mon­day again. After a few more days of work, you remem­ber that the files you placed in that tem­po­rary loca­tion are still there. Since you put them there you have been work­ing with the same tasks, but now you are not sure which doc­u­ments you have worked with and altered, and which ones you have not changed. Every­thing hap­pened a bit too fast when you had to pre­pare for the meet­ing, and you might have placed the doc­u­ments in mul­ti­ple loca­tions just to make absolute­ly sure you could access them. And did you not make a few changes in them dur­ing that busi­ness trip a few days ago too?

Mas­sive hassle

And just like that, what seemed to be a smart quick-fix at the time has turned into a real has­sle. You have to spend time sort­ing out what is what and which doc­u­ments you should keep work­ing with — time you would rather spend doing some­thing else.

This is exact­ly why you should set a clear expi­ra­tion date on any for now”-solution, hence mak­ing it into an until then”.

Do this

If you want to avoid hav­ing for now”-emergency solu­tions get­ting you into trou­ble, then do this:

  1. As you are mak­ing an excep­tion and plac­ing a doc­u­ment in a tem­po­rary loca­tion, also decide when you will go back to the reg­u­lar rou­tine and put the doc­u­ment back in its ordi­nary place or erase it from the tem­po­rary loca­tion (so you do not hap­pen to update the quick-fix copy).

  2. Do some­thing to remind your­self to put every­thing back to nor­mal when the state of emer­gency has passed. You could, for example,…
    • Set an alarm on your phone to remind yourself.
    • Book a slot in the cal­en­dar with a reminder on the day and time things will be back to nor­mal” again.
    • Ask the IFTTT app on your phone to remind you when you step into the office again, even if you do not know what date or time you will be back right now.
    • Write an email to your­self remind­ing you to put the doc­u­ments back and sched­ule the email to be deliv­ered around the time you believe you will be back.
    • Write an email to your­self with the updat­ed doc­u­ment attached right after the meet­ing you need­ed it for, so that it will be easy for you to put it back in its right­ful place.
    • Or, do some­thing com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent that suits you even better.

Get back to the essen­tials quicker

If you clear­ly artic­u­late to your­self when the tem­po­rary solu­tion expires, you will be less trou­bled by los­ing infor­ma­tion, invol­un­tary dupli­ca­tion of doc­u­ments and doubts regard­ing which ver­sion you should be work­ing with. Of course, in a per­fect world, all sync­ing and con­nec­tions work smooth­ly, but some­times there will be issues and then we have to do what we can to make our work­day as easy and smooth as possible.

What’s your way?

What trick or method do you use to make quick-fix­es noth­ing more than tem­po­rary occur­rences and not per­ma­nent prob­lems? I bet every­one has done this at one point or anoth­er — share your best tips with me!

(By the way, do you know these five ways to keep track of your dead­lines?)

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