Nov 09, 2011 0 Share

Seizing Power


Smoking laptop in front of man with head in his hands.
iStockphoto

“Oh #$!@&! Not again!” 

My laptop had seized up. Burdened with too many things running at once and after going slower than molasses, it couldn't muster up any more computing power and had crashed, forcing me to unplug it and then pull out the battery. Basically I had to abruptly shut it down, losing everything that wasn't already saved. 

Yet again. 

I've had a bad habit: Leaving lots of tabs open. How many tabs open at a time, you may ask? My laptop was a regular Heinz—57 varieties! (I wish I were exaggerating.) Plus a few documents, maybe a Notepad or three, all for days on end. 

Not to put too fine a point on it, I've been indecisive, stubborn and lazy. What to do? 

I've made an early New Year's Resolution: Each time now before I go to bed at night or leave the house, I close all programs and actually shut the computer down. That forces me to make a quick decision about each thing I had open. Besides both giving the laptop a much more viable workload—which helps ensure it keeps working and makes it run faster, thus saving time—and keeping the files safe, it's a great time management tool in itself because I dispose of each thing once and move on. Plus, it saves power and protects the computer from sudden electrical storms. 

We're creatures of habit. By “we” I mean humans in general, not just Aspies. As the saying goes, motivation may get you started but habits keep you going. (Where did I hear that, you may ask? In  Weight Watchers, to which I've belonged for years--that's a story for another day.) 

One thing people have often said about me (sometimes even to me): I don't know when to quit. The neat thing about it is, once I get a good habit started up it's likely to stick. 

This one is simple. Before going to sleep or leaving the house: 

  • Open each tab, and decide whether to copy and save it (complete with URL) in Notepad, print it, bookmark it or just move on. 
  • Then do it. And once it's done, just close the tab. 
  • Go on to the next tab. Lather, rinse, repeat, until all tabs have been accounted for. 
  • Close all open documents (saving changes). For each Untitled Notepad window, decide whether or not to save it, and if so save it under an appropriate filename. 
  • Shut down the laptop. 
  • Unplug it. 

That's a good model for behavior change in general: Keep it specific, keep it simple—and keep it going. 

Besides the more visible benefits, I'm happier—because I know I can do more with myself. I've seized the power to succeed despite my worst enemy.

I know that in an important sense I can do whatever I want. I'm happier than if I'd found $1,000 on the sidewalk. Money can be taken away (or become worthless with inflation). And once it's spent it's gone. Not to mention finding money is nothing to be proud of. But if I can do something new, that can stay with me for a lifetime. And I can use that power to move on to greater successes.