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Impulsive Computer Repair: A Cautionary Tale

Two years ago, my laptop’s hard drive decided to leave and take my data with it. I don’t remember, but there’s a reasonable chance these events inspired a post at the time about the perils of not backing up your data.

LaptopWhen this happened, I was traveling overseas and the laptop was a few years old, so I decided just to get a new laptop and then get everything I needed to replace the hard drive and reinstall the operating system on my old computer once I got back to the United States.

Of course, in typical ADHD fashion, I then left the laptop sitting on a chair for two years rather than following through on my plan of fixing it when I was back in the US. Until this week, when, also in typical ADHD fashion, I suddenly discovered a burning enthusiasm for getting my old laptop running again.

So I glanced at the user manual to see what kind of hard drive I needed and ran off to the electronics store to get one. When I came back, I discovered I needed a type of screwdriver I didn’t have to open up the laptop, so I eyeballed the screw size and ran off to get the screwdriver.

Now, the phrase “eyeballed the screw size” might be the first sign that my laptop repair project was not being conducted with methodical precision. Predictably, I got the wrong size of screwdriver (actually, I got a whole set of screwdrivers and they were all the wrong size) and had to go back and exchange it.

When I opened up my laptop, I found that I’d also gotten the wrong size of hard drive. So I went back to the electronics store and proceeded to get the wrong size of hard drive again. Three’s the charm, I guess.

At this point, it occurred to me that this whole story of computer repair gone wrong is some kind of parable about planning ahead and attention to detail. From not backing up my data, to procrastinating on the project for two years, to repeatedly purchasing the wrong equipment, this was not my moment of greatest organization.

The thing is, I’m not even completely technically incompetent. I promise. I have a degree in computer science, and I’ve worked on plenty of computers before. The best excuse I can muster is that, after delaying the project for two years, I was so astonished by the fact that I had actually gotten around to doing it that I couldn’t think clearly about how to do it.

Perhaps, then, this is a tale about how you shouldn’t let your enthusiasm in the initial stages of a project short-circuit your ability to plan ahead. Or, if you also find yourself in the position of having to return to an electronics store to explain that you’ve yet again purchased the wrong item, maybe it’s just a reminder that at least you aren’t alone.

Image: Flickr/Dan Previte

Impulsive Computer Repair: A Cautionary Tale

Neil Petersen

Neil Petersen writes regularly on education, learning disabilities and technology. He received his B.A. in 2014 and was diagnosed with ADHD at the beginning of his college studies. Neil also works for a music education non-profit and hopes to help create an education system that can better serve students with ADHD.

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APA Reference
Petersen, N. (2018). Impulsive Computer Repair: A Cautionary Tale. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 25, 2019, from


Last updated: 16 Oct 2018
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