Troubleshooting: How to Stay Sane and Sort the Problem

It happens to everyone. In whatever industry you work in you are bound to come across practical or administrative problems. Unless you love a challenge and trying to fix things troubleshooting is never something we like to do, but often our business or school work depends on sorting out problems fast. This only multiplies the frustration and panic that sets in when we get down to work and realise with a heart-dropping thud that our plans have been scuppered by the unstoppable force of 'I'm-going-to-mess-your-day-up'. So what actions, step-by-step, can you take to avoid excessive strain upon the arrival of big-time blips and finest f*ckups?

Don't freak out too soon

Say something is a crucial part of your task and you've gone and lost it. Panic and rises, your throat has gone dry and your brain reels, trying to remember what you might have done with it. Did it get mixed up with something else? What if you don't find it and a customer has to be inconvenienced on your behalf? What if your boss calls you in tomorrow and fires you on the basis that your irresponsibility has caused a major company-wide crisis?


Don't even entertain stupid thoughts like that until you've checked the facts. Take a deep breath and decide what the next logical action is to take. Do a search, calmly, before you skip over things in a flurry of rage or fear. 

Walk away from it

If it's clear you might have screwed up (or maybe it was someone else down the line before you) give yourself a break. If you need to go on a troubleshooting mission, you need to have a fresh head. The saying goes that leaving something for a while and coming back to it is a good thing. I one-hundred per cent agree with this. Managing an issue on your own is always a good place to start and you can only do that when you take a step back before reassessing the situation.

Clear all your tabs

Tidy up your station, whether you're in a workshop or you are a creative who thrives in a messy environment. Clean your workspace. For computer problems shut down any programs, clear your tabs and start over. I suffered a few blunders just last week, relating to coding, and got so irritated that I just shut all my progress down and started again, strategically deleting changes I had already made in a desperate attempt to fix things so that I could go in with a clean slate. 

Ask for help

If you've tried to straighten things out by yourself, ask somebody more senior or someone who has the know-how to help correct a problem. Owning up to a mistake is the first part of this step and it's never an easy thing to do. Whoever you have to go to, try not to overthink your error. The chances are, the person you are appealing to has no real care for your embarrassment. They just want to put things right and get on with other stuff. In my experience, my managers always had tricks up their sleeve to fix things without increasing the costs for neither the company nor the customer!

When you work for yourself, however, you probably don't have somebody senior to check up on you. In this case, do what we entrepreneurs do best and take matters into your own hands. Do your research online. Ask the next best person, someone from an external party who might have the knowledge to help you. Go to your support team or network if you work online and rely on code literacy to get things working properly. There's nothing wrong with asking questions, even if you think they're stupid ones and claiming full responsibility. I know it sucks now, but you'll be laughing about it one day, or teaching somebody else what to if they get a problem like the one you faced.

Thanks for reading today's post. If it helped you I would be pleased to hear about it. Troubleshooting is oftentimes frustrating, humiliating and boring, but following the steps above as best as you can is going to help you to manage your reaction with each trial you face.

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