Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Time Management Tuesday: Learning Curves For New Technology

Have I mentioned my new laptop? I don't think so. I will be talking about its splendors sometime in the future, but today I'm going to drone on a bit about how technology is wonderful, absolutely wonderful, for managing time and getting things done. But technology is always changing, which means learning curves, over and over and over again. And do they ever take time.

Very few people can afford the time to just stop working and learn how to use, say, a new word processing program or make the jump from a standard cellphone to a smartphone. We have to work while we learn, we have to use that phone while we learn. I think of this as a martial arts model. In the schools I've attended, you're thrown in with all the other students of all different levels of experience and knowledge. You follow along as best you can, and then step out to work on the skills for your level. Then you jump back in with the others, going back and forth like that. It works for them, but they take the long view. Everything will come with time.

That's how things work with new technology to a great extent but for a different reason. We jump right in and work with the new, not because we take the long view but because we don't. We can't stop to study because we have to keep producing. But there's no getting around the fact that we're not producing at peak efficiency and speed, because we're struggling to learn the new technology as we go along.

A case in point

My laptop arrived two weeks ago loaded with Word 2013. I haven't had to acclimate myself to a new word processing program for some time, because I've been using Word 2003. For the very standard straight manuscript typing I do, it has worked very well, and I haven't had to lose any time learning the new bells and whistles of all the versions that came between 2003 and 2013. Now, my computer guy could find a way to get 2003 onto this laptop because he's kind of a rogue and that's how he rolls. But we have another computer guy in the family, and Computer Guy II pointed out that at some point Microsoft will stop supporting earlier versions of Word, and then what do I do? Computer Guy I, being a rogue, as I mentioned, would take the attitude that we fight it! We do not give in to the man! Computer Guy II, on the other hand, is more of a make-love-not-war tech person. Since I've got this maintain-the-mind-of-a-beginner thing going on, and I'm willing to concede that maybe Word 2013 has something positive to offer me, beyond the fact that it is simply on my computer, I decided to go with Computer Guy II on this one.

This morning, after having used Word 2013 for two weeks, I spent fourteen minutes getting a header with numbering onto a new chapter file. That is a good thing. On the last two chapters, I spent around forty to forty-five minutes on headers and numbering pages. I am making progress.

But I've also lost work time. In my case, I'm hoping that the time I lose now will be made up for in the future because of the splendors of this laptop.

Do We Get Everything New Devices Have To Offer Learning This Way?

In my case, the answer to that question is, "No." I'm on my second digital camera. I never learned all the options on the first one, and I use only a fraction of what I could on the new one. I've even carried the manual in my camera case, hoping that I'd find time while traveling to sit down and browse. That rarely happens, mainly because I can take a good enough picture and let it go at that. My iPhone is my favorite material possession right now. One of the reasons I got it was to listen to podcasts. I do do that, but directly from the site that originally produced them. I haven't figured out how to download podcasts to my iPhone. In fact, the Apple store won't let me purchase podcast apps from my phone because of some password problem I haven't had time to even try to resolve. I always take the easy option that provides a lesser result because I don't have time to go another way.

The irony here, folks, is that the technological device that could be a major factor in managing our time requires time to learn to use properly.

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