Adam mentioned wanting a quicker reboot for his life. I gave this some thought, and here’s what I have for a premise: not unlike computers, the thing that slows down most reboots is sorting through everything. Where were things left when I shut down? What’s got to be done by which thingy when? That kind of stuff. Here are some potential hacks for quicker reboots:

  • Manage Threads Better- If you know and can easily reference who you owe WHAT in terms of time, deliverables, cash, and otherwise, it helps you reboot your life faster. For instance, if I wanted to “drop everything” right now, I’d have to stop working on my (soon to be too late) Father’s Day project, stop working on a picture refinishing project, kill my household tasks, stop writing for 5 or 6 blogs, etc, etc. Hack: Keep a running “thread” list, simply stating Item / Owner / Due by / Status. Make this list religious. Make it the PID table for your life. If it’s not on your threads, it doesn’t exist. Thus, if you have to reboot, you can send a “status” call to the folks who own the threads and try to “exit gracefully.”
  • Manage Power Better- You need energy and clarity of mind to keep your “human stack” running. That means good food, good rest cycles, proper circulation (exercise). If you don’t manage your meat-space, you start losing cycles to do as much work. A reboot will help clear this, but before you even have to come to that, having better processes to handle your power levels will stretch out the duration between reboots. Hack: start and build enduring, strong habits around eating on schedule (every 2-3 hours), exercising regularly (new guidelines: 60 minutes a day), and sleeping enough (officially 8 hours, but I’m guilty of far fewer hours). It will keep you head working better. If you don’t have enough time to do all that, look for threads to kill or defer. You can’t forever overclock or your system will just shut down on its own.
  • Improve Monitoring – Windows XP is far more explicit about problems than Windows 95 ever was. Linux and Mac users have fairly good instrumentation, should they choose to observe it. Without your threads document, you lack a process table (how busy you are). Without some kind of graphing (process monitor), you can’t be sure your history and running averages. You rely instead on anecdotal health checks and pings to determine if you’re too busy, too tired, too overworked. Hack: make simple graphs to track your progress (try Joe’s Goals, which we wrote about a week ago). Try to collect some sense of what you’ve been up to, so that you can predict or forecast how much more you can or can’t take on at any given time.
  • Defrag – Similar to my post on moving back into your house, reboots can be more and more difficult if we leave our “bits” all over the place. How organized are you? How cluttered is your workspace? (I know Adam’s answer, which will be another post). Besides my basic starting point of “reducing clutter and not bringing new clutter into your life is best,” it’s also important to manage where everything is kept. I don’t believe that whole “super creative people are messy by nature” thing (though a snapshot of my house right now might disagree). Instead, I believe that we often lack the proper supplies to collect and organize things better. Well, IKEA sells stuff cheaply. So do several other department stores. These things permit organization on gross levels for the first pass, and then you can work to reduce some of the “mess” in your life. Hack: set up monthly “can’t avoid” times to reset your house, your work space(s), your bags and backpacks – everything that holds parts of YOU.
  • Add Resources- Covey’s 7 Habits puts forth that it’s all well and good that you are independently capable and useful, but the real prize is in being able to use off-board resources (other people) via interdependence. Building up ways and systems to share the wealth of things in your life in such a way that you’re not 100% overseeing the work you’ve passed forward gives you a few extra cycles. In essence, it’s like adding extra CPUs or a video card. You’re spreading the load by sharing out work. (Leon’s spread the load of Lifehack.org posting by giving me a logon here). Hack: learn how to build processes and projects in such a way that you can “farm them out” or share them with others. This means that even if you have to reboot, those processes that aren’t 100% yours might stay up and keep running while you reboot.

So are these hacks or tips? Are they workarounds to existing processes or optimizations? I don’t quibble with the terminology. I just want them to be useful to you. Does any of that ring true to you? Can you see how the extended analogy of examining at least the “functional” parts of our life as if they were computer bits might give us new perspective on getting things done? Your thoughts, feedback, add-ons to the premise, would all be greatly appreciated.

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