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5 Things To Do While Waiting For Your Computer

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5 Things To Do While Waiting For Your Computer

Whether you’re an IT professional or not, working in an office will usually involve you spending a lot of time at the computer. While computers are pretty fast at most things, you will probably find yourself waiting for it to do something every now and then. Compiling code, starting up, or installing software are just some tasks that the computer needs to do that take up a lot of resources. Stay productive during this time by getting other things done, as suggested below.

Go Over Your Handwritten Notes

If you’ve got a pen and paper or notebook nearby, you have probably got some notes written down. These could be notes that were taken when you went to meetings or brainstorming exercises, diagrams you’ve drawn, or things you’ve discussed with others. While you’re waiting for your computer to load, you can spend the time going over these notes and determining what to do with them, such as:

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  • Work out if there are any actions required. Some notes require work to be done, either by yourself or by others. Have a read of these notes and see if there’s anything you need to act upon or delegate.
  • Recreate your diagrams. This involves using software to recreate any diagrams that you’ve written down. This probably can’t be done while your computer is doing something intense, but you can note it and remember it for later.
  • Clarify any points you’re not sure of. If you’re reading your notes and you’re not sure about something, mark it so you can clarify it, either right away with someone or later when your computer is running again.

Tidy Your Desk

Another thing you can do while your computer is loading is clean up your desk. You might normally keep it pretty clean, but you can take this time to organize it a bit better. Ask yourself:

  • Is there any rubbish that needs to be thrown out?
  • Is there any filing to be done?
  • Do any old notes or files need to be thrown away?
  • Does it need to be wiped down?

A cleaner desk can help you focus on the work you’re doing, and performing this kind of clean up every now and then keeps your desk looking good. It also sends a good impression to those around you that you’re organized and focused.

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Talk To Your Co-workers

Speaking to the other people you work with is a great thing to do while waiting for your computer. Yes, you could be doing this even when your computer isn’t loading, but it’s a good chance to do it now.

You can talk to them about issues they’re having, ask them any questions you have, or ask how they are going with their own piece of work. You can even ask about non-work related topics, such as their weekend or plans for the night. Spending time getting to know your co-workers is a good thing, as it can make your team work more effectively and help you develop your communication skills.

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If you have any actions from your notes that you identified in the tip above, you can speak to the people you need to in this time. You can also make whatever phone calls you need as well, depending on how long you will be waiting for your computer.

Grab a Coffee or Some Water

This is an old tip, and is actually the source of a few jokes. Back when computers were horribly slow, people used to joke that they could run something on their PC, walk away, make a coffee, come back, and it would still be loading. While this is still true for some intensive tasks, normal tasks are much quicker.

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For these intensive tasks that take a little longer to run, use this time to get a coffee. If you don’t drink coffee, get a tea instead. If you don’t feel like caffeine, get some water. It’s good to keep hydrated throughout the day, and getting a coffee, tea, or water has the added benefit of getting you away from your desk, getting some exercise, and stretching your muscles. If it’s a regular task, such as waiting for your computer to log in in the morning, you probably know how long it takes. Every morning while my computer starts up, I take that minute to go and get myself a coffee and some water. It’s up and running for when I get back.

Write or Check Your To-Do List

Having a to-do list is a great way of keeping organized and productive at work. It’s a list of tasks that you need to get done at some stage, and an indication of the priority and the date they are due. It can either be computer-based or written on paper.

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While waiting for your computer to load, use this time to check your to-do list. If it’s on the computer, print it out first! Better yet, sync your devices. Go through any notes you have taken, have a think about what you need to do today, and write it down. Writing it down helps you keep track of what you need to do, and you can refer to it when you’re ready for the next task. If you don’t have a to-do list, now is the perfect time to create one.

I hope these tips are helpful for whenever your computer is busy while you’re at work. If you have any other tips to share, please leave them in the comments below.

More by this author

Ben Brumm

Ben is a business analyst and software developer. He shares career advice on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on October 21, 2021

How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

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How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

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More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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