Sometimes the best thing you can do to get a computer back on track is to reboot it. The same concept to get back on track can apply to life.
A few weeks ago I was feeling overwhelmed. It wasn’t a new thing, but rather something that had been going on for months. I felt like I was juggling everything, things were dropping, and I didn’t have time to deal with a crisis that came up. I was getting exhausted and resentful.
I had to get back on track. I knew it was time for me to reboot my life.
Rebooting A Computer
When you reboot a computer, there is a very specific set of actions that happen.
- Close programs. When a computer is rebooted, the first thing it does is goes in and shuts down all the programs that are currently running. This includes not only the things that you have consciously started, but also all of the involuntary programs like the print queue and device drivers.
- Power down. The next step is that the computer powers off and waits a bit.
- Restart computer. The computer now powers back up, running diagnostics and starting the base programs, called the operating system, as well as hooking in your hardware like mouse and keyboard.
- Restart automatic programs Next the computer fires up the programs that are invisible to you, but allow you to work, like the print queue (allows you to print) and any other networked devices. Some of these you can’t stop from re-starting, but others are put into this category by the programs (like programs that automatically update).
- Restart voluntary programs. Next comes the programs for the things you want to work on.
Get Back On Track By Rebooting My Life
Rebooting a life can take a very similar turn. In fact, it corresponds, one-on-one, to the way a computer reboots.
Closing Things Down
The first phase of the program was to figure out what was running in my life and start shutting them down for a temporary time. I did this by looking at my calendar and task list, and figuring out what had demands on my time. Then I prepared everyone and everything for a bit of downtime. I treated this like a vacation, so I let people know I wouldn’t be available to respond to anything for two weeks. Then I took care of things that needed to be tied up before I would be back online, and took a break.
This next part was the most conscious part of the process. Freed from most of my usual commitments, I was able to use my non-work/non-family time to journal about the areas of my life. This took the form of listing all the areas of my life, and then looking at what was working, and what was contributing to the sense of overwhelm.
I then looked at what I wanted in each area. For instance, for my family, I want more family time doing things together; for Girl Scouts, I want to be free of the necessity of planning meetings.
I examined what I could drop if I could, and then considered ways to lessen those areas of my life in order to make room for more of what I want to do.
Considering What To Start Up
Next, I wrote out 1-2 sentences of what I wanted from each area of my life; this is to serve as a measure against which I can look at any project or commitment that comes up.
For instance, the blog item says “Provide value to my readers; get a positive ROI on time”. This particular item allows me to judge the editorial calendar to provide content that is valuable. It also allows me to judge activities that are going to provide the most return on my time investment. This has led me to redo the structure of the articles, when they come out, and what they are concerned with.
The entry for musician says, “Planned performances for vocal, small group and flute; keeping time free.” This allows me to remember that I don’t have time to do last-minute fill-ins (which has been a problem this year).
In each of the areas of my life, I looked at all the things that were ongoing, and held them up against these summaries. I then removed items that didn’t fit, freeing up time for other things.
One of the problems I have is that there are many things I would like to do, and I stuff them into a Someday/Maybe list. I review this list every 12 weeks and move things into the current phase of my life. The problem comes in with the size of this list. There is just not enough time to do everything, and some things are really just passing fancy.
In order to prevent buildup from happening, I went through my Someday/Maybe list in Evernote and pruned ruthlessly. Some items I was unable to let go of, and so they moved from Someday into Maybe. Others were jettisoned. I achieved about a 50% reduction of items in that area.
I am about a week into the rebooted life, and I find that I have much more time to do things I consider valuable. I’m not as frantic, and things aren’t falling through the cracks. Yes, there are people unhappy with my decisions. But I am happy with them, and in the end, that is what matters.
If you are interested in an ebook on how to reboot your life, please indicate it on the poll below! If there is enough interest, I will write one detailing the process.