How frustrated are you when you have to reboot your PC in the middle of the day? A full shutdown and reboot cycle can take a several minutes – instead of staring at your screen watching the icons flicker to life, the hourglass grind away, etc., why not capture a few minutes of productivity?
You’ll spend less time thinking evil thoughts about Bill Gates, and you’ll get a mood boost from being productive!
I just ran through a bunch of upgrades on my aging desktop, each of which required a tedious reboot. I resolved to tear my eyes away from the hourglass and come up with some good ways to use that downtime in a productive way. Here’s my list – feel free to add your own!
1. Start a To-Do List. Just about every time management book advises you to create and maintain a list of the tasks you need to accomplish for the day. If you don’t have one, start listing the things you want to get done – I use a brightly colored sheet of paper for this that stands out even on a cluttered desk. If you are so efficient that you already have a To-Do list, start off your reboot downtime by checking it for any needed additions or deletions, and for a task you can kill while waiting for the reboot to complete.
2. Do Some Filing. If you are ultra-efficient (or have a great assistant), you may not have any filing laying around. Personally, I tend to create a “to file pile” on top of the approriate filing cabinent. That lets me get items off my desk or out of my briefcase quickly, and file them later. Reboot downtime is perfect for grabbing a few items and dropping them into the appropriate file.
3. Network. OK, your contacts are all on the PC, right? Well, you can’t access LinkedIn, Outlook, ACT!, or any other Web or PC based tool while you are rebooting. So, scan your cell phone contact list, or the business cards stuffed in your desk drawer, and reach out and touch someone. If you get voicemail, leave a short message that doesn’t require a return call. Maybe you can try a second one if your PC is still grinding away. If you connect, well, your talk time may extend beyond the reboot, but it would be worth it, right?
4. Clear Something Off Your Desktop. Got some unopened mail on your desk? Maybe a pile of stuff you can’t quite decide to throw away? Pick it up off your desktop, and vow to make it go away – trash it, file it, or decide how to act on it if necessary. I find most of this stuff doesn’t require action, just decisive discarding.
5. Make Your Coffee/Snack/Soda Run. If you are never without coffee or soda, take advantage of the reboot to reload.
6. Think Strategically for a Minute. Just about all of us end up becoming slaves to our technology at times – the demands of instant messages, emails, alerts, etc. are all immediate. While you are out of touch for a minute or two, lean back in your chair, and think about the “big stuff” for a minute. It might be a key direction for your business or career, a project that you have had a hard time getting started… a minute or two of quiet reflection may be just what you need to come up with the approach you are looking for.
7. Power-Read An Article. I tend to skim trade magazines, and if I see an article that looks interesting or relevant I’ll rip it out and stick it in a “reading” file. That file is great for airplane trips, or for perusing in the dentist’s waiting room. A lengthy reboot is a good opportunity to reach into that file, pull out a short article, and power-read it. Nine times out of ten, you’ll be able to toss it in the wastebasket; if the article is that good, file it. Either way, you’ve moved a small task from the “future” pile to “done.”
8. Delve Into a Desk Drawer. Are you one of those individuals who keeps their desktop looking clean by sweeping items into the drawers? If so, a reboot is a perfect time to peer into the accumulated debris and determing if there are items that can now be discarded or, perhaps, moved to storage in a more logical and convenient place.
9. Check Your Briefcase, Portfolio, or Laptop Bag. Like desk drawers, briefcases and similar containers can accumulate plenty of debris – business cards, trade show swag, papers you took to meetings, items you obtained at meetings, magazines you planned to read, etc. Take a minute to remove any layers of random stuff you find – it will lighten the load, and you never know what might turn up in there.
10. Check Catalogs or Newspaper Inserts for PC Deals. Wouldn’t a new PC be great? It might boot up a lot faster than your current application-heavy, creaky old one. It would probably require fewer reboots, too. (New PCs never lock up, right?) These hopes are probably not justified, but watching your current PC cycle through the third seemingly endless reboot in an hour definitely gets you in the mood for computer shopping. Pick up one of the zillion Dell catalogs you get in the mail, or your Best Buy sale paper, and see what deals are out there. You could shop online, of course… but only if your computer was up!
Add your ideas below!