In 2021, I did a computer project for my wife, taking a 50,000-word manuscript of hers and formatting it into a book. The book was made up of eight sections called signatures. Each signature consisted of four sheets of paper, printed on both sides and folded in the middle to create 16 numbered pages. The eight signatures were then sewn together.

Last year, my wife wanted me to do it again with a new manuscript. I was dismayed I hadn’t documented the process the year before and had to figure out everything all over again.

Last year, I wised up and took notes, which paid off this year when she gave me a third such project. My notes walked me through all the organizing and formatting. Everything went well until the last step. When I printed out a test copy, the pages were out of order. I triple-checked my notes from last year and tried again. No joy.

Darn it. I was using the same computer, the same printer, the same program, the same version of the program, and following my notes from last year, but no matter what, the pages were jumbled.

I shut down my computer and unplugged the printer, letting them both think about the error of their ways. When they were restarted, my disciplinary measure proved effective. The document printed perfectly. This both pleased and irked me.

I was pleased that the document now printed correctly. I was irked that I’d wasted a lot of time searching for solutions. I added to my notes, in case I have to do another such project next year, “Shut down and restart the computer and the printer.”


January is typically the time when people try to restart their lives, making an effort to remove bad habits and establish good ones. Years ago, I joined a health club near the end of December, intending to start a regular exercise routine at the beginning of the new year. When I showed up on January 2, every piece of equipment was in use. I went to the manager and complained.

“Sorry,” he said. “It’s always like this the first week of January. Give it a week and there will be plenty of equipment free.”

Sure enough, a week later, the crowd had thinned, and I had my pick of equipment.

January is a terrible time to reboot your life. It seems like the right time, being the start of a new year, but if new habits don’t stick or old ones don’t die, then what? It feels like you’ve blown it and have to wait a year to try again.

When it comes to rebooting my life, I’ve had success with a program called the 12-Week Year, by Brian P. Moran. Instead of rebooting once in January, you do it every quarter. There is a book and online courses, and blah, blah, blah. But I’ve just told you all you need to know. Reboot every 12 weeks. Or for that matter, at the start of each month.

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