Most of us work and play at our computers. We might abuse them from time to time, but we try to take good care of them. We install virus-protection software, we carry our laptops in a special case, we reboot the computer when it's getting slow, and so on. If something goes wrong - an odd error message, or the blue screen of death - we take action to fix it.

Do you take such good care of yourself? Or do you end up working yourself into the ground, ignoring the first symptoms of problems? Here are some dos and don'ts which are probably part of your computer's regime: how about making them part of yours too?

Don't ... Run Lots of Programs At Once
You know what happens if you try to run a game, a bunch of chat applications, a web browser and your graphics-editing software at once: your computer grinds to a halt.

The same can happen to you. There's been a backlash against multi-tasking recently: experts have shown that our IQ drops when we're distracted by doing lots of things at once, and I'm sure that all of us have experienced that feeling of jumping between too many things and leaving all of them half-done or badly done.

In some cases, you need to literally close some programs on your computer. Having your email and Twitter open while working on a report isn't generally helpful. In the offline world, stopping multi-tasking might mean that you don't take phone calls while cooking dinner: either the conversation or the meal will suffer!

Like a computer, you switch quickly from one task to another

Do ... Prevent Viruses Ever Taking Hold
It's a safe bet that your computer's running anti-virus software. (If it isn't, you can get free software from AVG.) This prevents viruses from ever getting into your computer.

Do you take similar preventive measures about your own health? A nasty cold can knock you out of action just as effectively as a nasty virus can render your computer inoperable. Ways to prevent yourself from getting sick include:

  • Getting enough sleep
  • Eating healthily: plenty of fruit and vegetables
  • Taking regular exercise
  • Possibly taking supplements such as vitamins (ask your doctor about this)
  • Avoiding excessive amounts of stress, which leave you susceptible to illness

Don't Wait Until The Battery's Dead to Recharge
If you've got a laptop, you'll know that it's never a good idea to wait until that low battery warning appears before you recharge. In a worst-case scenario, you might actually lose what you're working on. You'll almost certainly be inconvenienced if your power fails when you're in the middle of something.

We often push ourselves too hard, and ignore our own low battery signals. Take a break before you run out of energy. Go to bed before your head is drooping at your desk. Give yourself a quiet weekend before you have a nervous breakdown...

Do ... Implement Efficiency Tips
There are tons of hacks to speed up your computer and to make it run more efficiently.

There are also lots of tips which will help you work more efficiently. You can find plenty here on Dumb Little Man. Whatever area you want to improve in your life - whether it's waking up energised each morning or simplifying and eliminating waste - you can find a guide to help you to do it.

Of course, you can read all the tips in the world, but it's doing them which counts. You wouldn't expect your computer to improve just because you read a copy of PC Magazine, would you? So take the same approach with yourself, and put the advice you read into action.

Don't ... Try to Fix It All Yourself
Finally, while tips are all well and good, you wouldn't rely on them if your computer had a serious problem. If the hard drive failed or the computer wouldn't boot reliably, or there was a worrying metal clunking grinding sound every time you put a DVD in the drive ... you'd get an expert to look at it.

With our own lives, though, we often struggle on without seeking any help. Perhaps we think we should do it all alone, or we're not sure who to approach, or we're worried we might be making a fuss about nothing.

The reality is, there is nothing wrong or weak about seeking help when you need it. If you've got unexplained symptoms, see your doctor. If you're suffering a lot of stress, unhappiness or anxiety, consider counseling or therapy. If you're struggling to make changes in your life, hire a life coach. There are plenty of experts in all aspects of your body and mind who can help you when things go wrong: don't be afraid to consult them.

Is your computer getting a better deal than you are? How can you change things around to make sure that you're taking good care of yourself?