Lessons from the Help Desk

My hard drive crashed last week, and while it was not the full-on Blue Screen of Death, it was enough of a hassle to rock my world for a few days. Luckily, I have a great tech support team who not only got my laptop back up and running in 2 days – with all my original files and settings (thanks guys!) – but who also reminded me of some important lessons when dealing with life’s malware.

  • Have a backup… plan, that is. If you are wired for routine (like most people) then two days without the magical combination of a laptop, software and internet connection could seriously hurt your productivity and add stress to your life. Losing your laptop for a few days is a good time to learn some of the cool productivity apps out there. Some of my favorites are Evernote for keeping track of notes, ideas and information and Paper for old-school writing/journaling/doodling. I keep a list of calls I need to make in Evernote, which I can access from all  my devices. When combined with a well-maintained Contacts list, I have all I need to keep client and team conversations going while my laptop is out of commission. Plus, talking is so much more fun than email!
  • Nourish your inner techie zen. Have you ever noticed how calm tech support folks are? Do they ever get their heart rate above 55? Is “certified yogi” a credential requirement for joining the Help Desk? Maintaining calm in the face crisis is an attitude we can all practice and benefit from. It helps to know some deep breathing techniques that will lower your heart rate and inject some oxygen into your brain. In addition, change your inner dialogue about the pitfalls and challenges you encounter each day. My mantra goes something like this: I can do anything for 5 minutes/2 hours/2 days/a week/longer. No laptop for a while? Sure, I can do that for 2 days. Project getting tough and stressful? Sure, I can handle that for a week, maybe two. Traffic bad on my commute? I can handle that for… 5 minutes, and then it is back to the breathing exercises.
  • Enjoy the challenge. Imagine my surprise when I picked up my laptop and the technician thanked me for providing him a fun, new challenge to work on. Happy to oblige, dude! But seriously, I bet most of you go to work every day because you like to use your brain to solve problems. After all, you can only play so much Sudoku, right? Reframe those big, complex problems that need solving as gifts to make life and work more fun and interesting. Pretty soon, you just might decide to skip Work and go to Fun everyday (I never understood why we call it ‘work’ when it can be fun too!).

Next time you are faced with a sudden change in plans that you didn’t ask for, take a few tips from the Help Desk. And, don’t forget to take them some Rice Krispie Treats – you have a better chance of jumping to the front of the queue next time your computer tanks out on you.

Heather Nelson is a partner with PeopleResults. She staunchly denies ever bribing the Help Desk to fix her computer more quickly. You can reach her at hnelson@www.people-results.com or on Twitter at @HeatherGNelson1. Sign up to receive the PeopleResults blog at Current.