Many programs check to find out if they have an available upgrade when you run them. If so, they have a little upgrade notice that pops up then and there to tell you. Helpfully. This is convenient, courteous, just-in-time behavior, right? Wrong.

When you start up a program, there’s a 99% chance that you’re starting it because you want to use it. You have some task that requires the program in order to accomplish. You’re in work mode, with a specific goal in mind.

That’s exactly the wrong time to distract you with a software upgrade notice that forces you to think about a choice: Not Now, Install, or Cancel (what does cancel even mean in this context?). If you should decide to install now—after all, who’s going to remember later—then you’re treated to six hours of debugging when this minor upgrade from v 5.62 to v5.63 accidentally wipes out your hard drive. Your original task gets lost.

As a user, don’t let upgrades hijack your mind! Adopt a simple, yet effective habit: when a piece of software offers to upgrade, immediately jot down at the very end of your to-do list, “Upgrade silly program” and choose Not Now. Then treat the upgrade as you would any other to-do item: do it only when it fits into your schedule. If it’s an urgent upgrade, fine, put it on your calendar for a free time block today or tomorrow. But keep your focus on the task and hand and don’t let upgrades hijack your mind!

(Author’s note: This blog post was inspired by an offer for me to upgrade that interrupted my train of thought for a blog post I was going to write. Sadly, I don’t recall what the original post was going to be. See how those offers can knock us off course?)

Ignore that software upgrade notice … for no…

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