Sheila Scarborough has been my friend for over 4 years, which is a long time online. She’s one of the most confident and capable people anywhere. She’s made an impressive transition from an officer in the Navy to freelance writer to entrepreneur and business owner. I’ve learned a lot from her about the world of travel blogging, about collaboration, and about friendship. I’m honored to finally feature her thoughts here. –Becky
By Sheila Scarborough
If dealing with technology gives you the willies, but you know that you must come to grips with it to succeed professionally or personally, here are my favorite tips for conquering those fears:
|(cc) Powerhouse Museum on Flickr|
Bend it …. to your will. Make the equipment or program fit your needs. Get a big, easy-to-see monitor. Use your computer’s Zoom feature to make fonts bigger. Consider an ergonomic keyboard. Learn how to work the Display settings on your smartphone so that it’s as bright and clear as you require for comfortable use. Don’t meekly default to the default when it doesn’t work for you.
—> It’s hard to enjoy technology when it is painful to use. Smack those settings around!
Ground it …. into something you can “see.” One of the scary things about tech is that you can’t tell what the heck’s going on in that little box. Is it a bunch of hyperactive squirrels running around in there? It’s all rather mysterious, but try to visualize the movement of electricity and data as though it were more mechanical; something tangible that can be seen, felt and understood.
Even if you don’t think you are mechanically minded, try this: learn to change a tire on your car. I haven’t been initimidated that much by machinery since I was 16 years old, mostly because my Dad made me learn how to change a tire on our 1973 Gran Torino before he’d let me drive it. After flailing around in our driveway under his supervision, I knew that if I experienced a flat while far from home, I could fix it myself. I can’t fix computers, but they’re no scarier to me now than a Gran Torino.
Too much? OK, then open the tank on your toilet and flush it a few times. Watch how the water flows and how the tank flapper, water float and other components work when you flush. Data flows like water, and your computer or smartphone have the electrical equivalents of flapper valves, etc. inside (they’re just a lot more delicate and wimpy.)
—> Understanding some machinery basics can help you translate the inner workings of your tech gear.
Bound it … into manageable chunks. I know; there’s so much out there. With print, information is physically bound by magazine and book covers. Words are bound on paper. Data, on the other hand, floats around like overwhelming clouds of gnats that are moving really fast.
Learn to do two things: operate a search engine, and bookmark or Favorite websites (it’s kind of like digital breadcrumbs) so that you can find them again when you need them.
Finding answers on Google or Bing is nothing more than putting the right queries into a Search box; it’s a game that’s MADE for you liberal arts majors! Go in looking for very specific things, try different combinations of words and revel in having the planet’s information at your fingertips. As you sift, remember what you started out looking for, because it’s easy for info junkies to get distracted.
There are different ways to bookmark, but if you learn to do it, you’ll never have to worry about getting lost in the vast internet (plus you’ll quit printing things so you can “find” them.)
—> The information you want is out there, and you can lay hands on it whenever you need it.
Pound it …. into submission! Show technology who is boss. You are not the dumb inanimate object; the computer is. When it gets obnoxious, pull its plug and take away its electricity for awhile. When a program keeps freezing, give that sucker a restart. Stop thinking that the problem is always you, and that you’re “hopeless.” Technology can do amazing things, but it’s not that bright sometimes.
—> You’re the smart one. The computers are not; they should do your bidding.
What have you learned about technology that could help others? Let us know in the comments!
Sheila Scarborough is a writer and speaker specializing in tourism, travel and social media. She’s writing a book called The Elastic Waist Entrepreneur about how women over 40 can conquer technology and the social web, and use it to launch businesses and conquer the world. Follow her on Twitter at @SheilaS
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