Most would probably agree on this: technology is amazing. As a migrant to this country, I am eternally thankful for being able to talk to my family as if they were next door. That’s true most of the time, anyway.
How much in our lives is made counter-productive by technology? I’m sure you have at some point butted heads with software that wasn’t behaving. Or that you tried doing something online (“it’s quicker that way”) and ended-up spending half a day trying to fix a problem rather than enjoying a nice, sunny day.
In this article I will point out a few reasons why technology sometimes becomes bothersome, and of course how to avoid it.
Use the right software
For months, out of laziness, I have been using the “message” app on my smartphone as a torchlight. Yet there are dozens of apps that make use of the built-in flash to create a more decent source of light. I just couldn’t be bothered looking for one and downloading it on my phone.
Although extreme, this is an excellent example of not using the right software for a particular task.
The same can happen in a professional environment: productivity can suffer from software that is too old, too “heavy”, too complex or simply just not right.
Before purchasing software, make sure it has the features you need. At least, software should offer the possibility to easily “upgrade”, enabling features you do not need now, but may need in the future. This has actually become a business model in many cases. Especially in the cloud: you can have access to an app with limited functionality for free or for a very small price, and can decide to “upgrade” your subscription to get a more feature-rich version of the app.
Make sure you keep your software up-to-date, and that your machines can support that software without causing major slowdowns. This is both a time-waster and a great source of frustration for your employees.
Training is underrated
One of the most basic reasons why people waste time with computers is because they lack training. And this is true of everybody: because you are using a computer or a given software every day doesn’t mean you are using it well, let alone to its full potential.
New features appear all the time. Others disappear or get replaced. Without training for you and your employees, you’re taking a bet that everyone will figure it out on their own, somehow. Most of the time, they will. But what if they don’t? what if they are missing out on a new feature that could enhance their productivity? What if they use an old practice that will come back to haunt you in the future?
A couple of years ago, I was part of a group that was using Google Drive to collaborate on documents. Because some members were exclusively using Microsoft Word documents, it led to some painful version nightmare that could have been avoided with some training.
Making sure your staff is well-trained, with their skills kept up-to-date, could save countless hours and would help avoid many problems when dealing with computers.
Ask for help
Technology seems to have some sort of power over us. When it works, we hardly notice it. But when it fails, we take it personally and try to fix it ourselves. And when we manage to do so, we feel great pride.
But what was the actual cost of that fix? How much time do we waste fixing things we know very little about? How long would it take a “pro” to do the same thing?
The quick answer: a lot less than you.
Here’s a tip: keep track of the time you spend trying to fix something. As soon as the time exceeds 10 minutes, ask for help. Wait any more than that, and you’ll just be wasting time.
Computers are great time savers, and it should remain that way. If you’d like to avoid wasting your time or pulling your hair, make sure you follow these tips. You’ll only feel much better working around computers, and you’ll get more done every day.