In 1980 IBM started a project in Boca Raton, Florida, to develop a personal computer (a PC) that could be used by regular people in their homes. The story is complex, but you can read some interesting background about it here.
David Bradley was one of the engineers on the project, and–in spite of a tremendously accomplished career–is best known in some circles as the developer of the three fingered salute: Control, Alternate, Delete (or Control, Alt, Delete as we usually say it.) That combination of keys is a way to end a program or process that has frozen up on you or to look at what is going on in the contraption right now. I’ll bet you have been grateful for it a zillion times!
Now and then you may want to consider what you need to Ctrl-Alt-Del in your life. What has become frozen and no matter how long you sit and wait, you know it isn’t going anywhere? What is using up energy and overloading your mind unnecessarily? How many processes do you have going? Could some of them be halted to allow you to better focus on others? What about just taking a break for a few minutes?
The first thing you see when you hit Ctrl-Alt-Del on most computers (Vista has a different approach to it, but gets there eventually) is a list of applications–what you have open and active right now. You can also see processes–what is going on behind the scenes. The same concept applies to evaluating your life. Right now, list the things that are on your mind almost all the time, with few interruptions. Those are in addition to the immediate issues with which you are dealing at work or home. You probably have ten to twenty things that rarely leave your mind and don’t change no matter how much you think about them! Some of them are nice feeling, but most are probably either negative or at least worrisome. No wonder you stay mentally exhausted!
There are several ways to Ctrl-Alt-Del our lives:
1. Exercise physically. One great advantage of walking, running, lifting weights, or doing calisthenics, Pilates or Yoga, is that you almost inevitably rest your mind. Sure, you might think of work, family or what’s for dinner, but it’s different feeling. Have you noticed that you sometimes find solutions or think of something creative or new while you’re working out? You’ve shut down some other processes and unfrozen your brain a bit!
2. Sleep. No matter how messed up things seem as you get ready for bed or when you close your eyes for a nap, your sad or negative emotions will be reduced at least somewhat when you awaken. You may think of the problem or concern almost immediately, but your mind will be better able to deal with it. “Sleep on it” is good advice, not only to be creative but also to reboot mentally and emotionally.
3. Reduce mental processes. You cannot control every aspect of your active life–but you often can do something to make it more manageable. Sometimes getting rid of mental (and actual) clutter can help. Sometimes you may need to completely stop something that is taking away from the quality of your life. You may find you need to stop volunteering so quickly or packing your life full of activity that isn’t necessary or fulfilling. You may need to reduce time with someone who is dragging you down.
You may have found other positive things: A hobby, a pasttime that is fun, sports, music, art or something else that is a Crtl-Alt-Del process for you. We all need something to stop the negative processes and defragment our minds! But make sure the things you do are positive and worthwhile and that they don’t create more problems. Which, using the computer analogy would mean: When you need to get unfrozen, don’t try to do it by downloading more free screensavers just because they look pretty.
Today and for the next few days, hit Ctrl-Alt-Del occasionally and list the common themes of your recurring, unpleasant thoughts. Are there some you could eliminate by simply tackling a task you’ve been procrastinating about? Could you replace some repeatedly negative thoughts with some positive affirmations? Could you stop feeling guilty or badly or sadly, by purposely finding better things that require your concentration? Do your mind and your life a favor and end those negative programs so you can free your mind for something better. You deserve the break!