NNBV editor column: Network’s down? Take time to clean your desk! (opinion)
August 29, 2018
Last Wednesday, amid the final stages of editing for both the September print editions of the Northern Nevada Business View and Healthy Beginnings magazine, our company's top IT guru, Chris, swung by the Reno office to address some recent issues with our office server.
While I was knee-deep in proofreading and making needed edits, I heard him toiling away behind me. And then I heard two things I knew were a bad sign:
1. The server stopped whirring.
2. Almost immediately, Chris remarked, "oops."
"Uh, oh," I thought to myself (which is the PC way of me saying I definitely muttered something much worse).
Just like that, our network was down. No phone system. No email. And no internet. Who knew if the edits I made would be there whenever our digital world was eventually resurrected.
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At the end of the day, sudden internet/network crashes are nothing more than a first-world inconvenience. It's not fun while amid the throes of deadlines, but 99 times out of 100, as I've experienced over the years, things return to "normal" within a handful of minutes, maybe 30 tops.
But, inconveniences happen, and they can seriously damage workflows. Anyone who relies on the internet and digital spaces to get his or her job done knows what I'm talking about. Nothing is arguably a bigger creativity-killer than having your momentum stopped dead in its tracks because of a busted network.
I could wax poetic forever about how it's important to not take things for granted, and that our reliance as a modern society on cloud-sharing and digital access has many a negative impact. Unplugging is important, the network crash was a blessing in disguise, etc.
Sure, those things are true. But instead of lament this unplanned work stoppage, I took the opportunity to embrace that not all productivity was lost — and I cleaned my desk.
For some people, this sort of task might be part of a daily routine, but for me (and, I suspect, most journalists — and, honestly, a lot of millennial-aged professionals who rely on a work station) it's at best an afterthought.
I'm one of those people who falls into the habit of letting papers pile up across my work station as random sticky notes and steno pad scribblings find their way spattered across my monitors and desk. Meanwhile, old coffee cups and water glasses form a city skyline of sorts amid my phone, Kleenex box and other office items.
Some say a messy desk is that of a highly creative person. Others might say it's just laziness. Either way, I highly encourage anyone to take a few minutes of your work day (either by choice, necessity or due to a random network outage) and clean your desk. If nothing else, it's a wonderfully therapeutic way to "take a break."
And I mean more than just trashing things and recycling paper so you have a semblance of a work space again. Seriously, actually "clean" your desk. Take to it with a washcloth and some cleaning solution. Treat it like your kitchen counter at home.
For me, spending those few unplanned minutes tidying my desk was the real blessing in disguise — once our network was restored (and, luckily, almost all those changes were saved), I returned to my tasks with a renewed sense of vigor and creativity.
I might have lost a bit of momentum, but the feeling of returning to work with a clean slate (both physically and mentally) was refreshing, and it allowed me to finish my workday stronger than ever.
So, from one business professional to others, my advice is simple: Take advantage of life's unplanned surprises and wipe yourself a clean slate!
Kevin MacMillan is editor of the Northern Nevada Business View. He can be reached for comment at email@example.com.