It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?
-Henry David Thoreau
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Technology Tools – To Get or Not to Get

With the proliferation of technology tools, we need to think about both how we work and what could benefit us.  Just because the tools exist doesn’t mean that it’s something that will help us.  If you think about how many different ways there are for organizing papers, you can make a comparison – you can’t use all the different tools for dealing with paper; you need to figure out what you need as well as what will help you.  Then that is what you use and appreciate.  Tools of technology are no different. As with all tools, the most important consideration is your own needs.

Some people feel that they need to get the tech tools; they need to be up with the trends or not get lost with all the technology changes bombarding us.  I can relate to that – I was debating about getting a smart phone.  I wasn’t sure that it mattered to me – I have my iPad which serves me so well, yet I couldn’t help but consider adding that skill set to my knowledge base.  I’ve known more than one person who felt that they “should” use the technology.

Let’s eliminate all “shoulds” for getting and using technology.  Many people continue to function perfectly well without using any smart devices – I’m working with someone who doesn’t even own a computer, let alone a basic cell phone or anything else.  If on the other hand, you have a need for one (or more) of these tech tools, that’s not a “should.”  There’s a foundation for getting it – to fill a need you have.  This isn’t about comparing yourself to your kids or your parents, or neighbors or coworkers, etc. nor is about following the trends of the latest thing (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc). It’s about examining your personal needs and identifying a gap that these tools could meet.

I absolutely adore my iPad and I don’t think there will be a time that I will not find it extremely useful.  I use it for quite a number of things, having adapted to using it, and now both appreciate its benefits for me and how things have been simplified.  Yet, just because it’s a fabulous tool for me, doesn’t mean that it is a good tool for anyone else.  It seems that some people think that if the technology exists, everyone should use it.  That’s silly and potential wasteful – of your money, time, and energy.

One of the potential challenges with all this technology is that there is a learning curve – the time it takes to both learn and adapt to how it works – and it continues to change.  That isn’t even addressing the huge number of apps available to help meet your needs – which also require learning and adapting to.  And it might mean that you could use additional tools – I decided to add a stylus to my tool bag for a handwriting app.  I’d encourage you to make the most of the tools you choose to incorporate into your life – remember they are there to benefit your life.

When technology is used to fulfill a need, it can make our lives easier and help us become more effective in life.  I was recently talking to someone about options for using technology and the potential for eliminating the amount of papers.  There is a way that she could only use technology; it would require learning a number of new programs and adding steps to her process.  I commented that it sounded both too complicated for her and went against her inclinations.  From there we moved into talking about some simple ways to use technology that could be relatively easy to implement and would additionally simplify parts of her process.

I’ve found that thinking about these technology options specifically as “tools” it encourages me to think about their usefulness for me – just as I wouldn’t buy a compound miter saw since I couldn’t and wouldn’t use it.  Despite that this technology surrounds us, it doesn’t change the fact that they are tools – something that’s supposed to make our lives simpler.  Yet only for those people who have a need for that tool.

Is there a need that one of the technology tools would fulfill?  This is the most important consideration before you jump in and get anything.  Identifying your specific needs can then lead you to which particular tool will be most beneficial for you – since there are so many.

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