Let’s say your productivity takes a nosedive. Maybe you’ve gotten lazy with your planning processes and your to-do lists are out of control. Perhaps you went on vacation, and you just haven’t been able to get on top of your inbox. Maybe you have a looming project due date that you haven’t even been able to think about. Or maybe unexpected changes in your industry have presented new challenges and taken you off your original course.
Every second you’re out of the race, you and those depending on you fall farther behind. So leap into action, resolved to restore your productivity in record time. But how do you reboot your productivity? Do what you do when your computer crashes—a hard reboot.
A hard reboot always seems to be the last resort. You throw your hands up in the air, accept that you’re dead in the water, and push the button. So just accept that you’re stuck, stop dwelling on it and wallowing around in your frustration, and decide to hit the restart. You may have to be pretty harsh about it. In 2012, Merck Pharmaceuticals’ new R&D head, Roger Perlmutter, had to clear out the bureaucratic deadwood—human and otherwise—before he could return his division to profitability.
When everything’s ready, flip the proverbial switch and put your head down for a few hours. Get mad. Get decisive. Get fast. For me, a productivity hard boot is a personal retreat. I check myself into a hotel a mile up the road and check out 48 hours later, refreshed, reenergized, and reorganized. I think, write, plan, strategize, and get caught up. I don’t leave the room (go somewhere with a microwave and refrigerator and take your meals with you). It’s so exciting that I can hardly sleep.
We can’t control everything in our environments, but we can accept that things can and do fall apart. When they do, how you react will test your strength and character—and how quickly you bounce back. So when you take it on the chin, bop life back and move on. Learn from experience, pulling whatever’s useful from the wreckage, and rebuild something stronger. Remember: you never really fail until you give up.
What does your version of a productivity hard reboot look like?