Ctrl Alt Delete For Your Brain

When working towards our goals we frequently have several different strands going on in our heads at the same time. For example, I am currently starting a new web business, writing an e-book and trying to get my online article total up to a new record level.

Most of the time, all these tasks are efficiently compartmentalized and I allocate time according to which is the most important from day to day. Sometimes, though, my tasks begin to overlap each other and cause confusion.

Sometimes, one of the strands gets bogged down and I have writer's block, or a particularly thorny problem from another area, keeps intruding. At those moments, I feel a little like my computer does, when I have too many windows open at the same time. I feel overloaded.

I am old enough to remember when computers could only do one thing at a time. Before Windows came along, you had to run a program, such as Word, on its own. Then when you wanted to use a spreadsheet, you shut Word down and started Excel up. There was no way of copying and pasting between two open programs. Oh no!

With Windows a whole new world became available and as computing power got faster, we began to expect our machines to do absolutely anything. Earlier versions of Windows would handle this up to a point, but then if too many things were going on at once the whole thing would groan to a halt, you'd get the dreaded blue screen and have to do a reboot.

Since then Microsoft came up with "Task Manager," a way of handling these problems more elegantly. What happens is that Windows still gets overloaded, but now Task Manager allows you to select and shut down just the offending program, rather than having to restart everything.

Which brings me back to my poor, steaming brain. When I start to get overloaded with confusion and one task gets stuck in an endless loop, I imagine that I have a keyboard plugged into my brain and I simply press Ctrl, Alt, Delete and call up my trusty Task Manager.

On my mind's screen, I then scroll down to the hung up task. It was e-book, this morning, that showed the "Not Responding" message, so I clicked on "End Task", waited a couple of seconds and shut that program out of my memory and went back to working on an article.

Having this rather satisfying image in my head, means that I can happily forget about the problem program for a little while and allow myself to concentrate on something that is flowing smoothly.

In the background meanwhile, my brain circuits are quietly unraveling the tangle and resetting that part of my mind. Then, later, when things are sorted out, I can go back to my Start Menu, select e-book again and fire it up afresh, with a clean screen and bright new ideas. Works every time.

  • About

    headshot: David Beroff in St. ThomasDavid Beroff started writing software at the age of 11, and was teaching Computer Science at Rutgers University by the time he was 18. After designing software for two decades, he started his own Internet marketing firm in '95; one of his company's earliest successes was Freedback.com, a free feedback-form service that was later sold to Wondermill.

    Beroff had bought and sold four million voluntary, opt-in email leads generated with properties like LeadFactory and SuperTAF before the business failed in '07. He is the author of the book, Turn Funny Email into CASH!, and is currently developing a new social media site, AboutTh.is.

    He has two grown children, and now lives outside of Scranton with his girlfriend and five cats.

  • Contact

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