By its very nature, technology is in a constant state of change. And because it’s always new and never perfect, it often doesn’t work as we expect or hope it will. I’m seeing more and more people who are familiar with technology throw up their hands at the pace of change, ready to give up on whatever tool is vexing them at the moment. Those with less experience worry that there is little hope that they will ever become competent.
When thinking of my own ability to solve the technical challenges that I deal with every day, I came up with some techniques that can ease some of the stress for both technical and non-technical folks.
Remember what you are trying to do. Technology often leads us off on tangents, like pausing to install some required software or look something up on Google. It can be hard to refocus on the original task but that’s where the real benefit lies.
Remember who you are. Not in the existential sense, in the technical sense. In the days before the Internet, this was easy. You were whoever you signed into your computer as. Nowadays, we access so many different accounts through the browser that it can be hard to keep them all straight. When things start getting strange, ask yourself, “who am I in this situation and what am I allowed to do here?”
Remember where you are. Are you signed into your personal Gmail account or your business Google Apps account? Are you posting on the right Facebook account? To which website are you adding content? Goes hand in hand with who you are.
Know your software. When you encounter a new program or online service, take a little time to get an overview of what it does and how it works. All quality programs have some kind of tutorial overview that won’t take up too much of your time and can provide valuable tips that can be used later. A side note: software doesn’t make you an expert in things that you know nothing about. A subscription to Adobe Creative Suite doesn’t make you a designer and a copy of Quickbooks doesn’t make you a CPA. Know when to ask for help.
Know a little bit about the Internet. Here’s about as much as you need:
Google is your friend. Chances are good that your problem isn’t unique and has already been solved. Search for a few descriptive keywords about your problem and you may find the answer quickly. If you’re staring at an obtuse error message, try cutting and pasting it right into Google to find all of its possible meanings.
Allow technology to be frustrating. Sometimes you get stuck; we all do. If you’ve been working at something long enough to make your brain hurt, take a break. When you come back, remember what you’re trying to do and try and think back to when you did something similar. Test things out, ask questions and know that if it’s hard for you, it’s hard for other people too. Eventually, you or someone else will find the answer and your problem will be solved. Until the next time….
Hair pulling self portrait by Evil Erin.