My good buddy Nathan Whipple, and I were talking on New Year’s Eve about how wide a spectrum exists in terms of being “tech savvy.”
Tech savvy can mean a lot – but we were talking about how well people utilize the power of the hardware and software they use everyday. For example, the general population – of which the cutting-edge-tech-nerds are a sliver – have smartphones, use gmail, find quick facts online, and collect digital media.
However, I have all of my contacts synced across all of my devices and gmail account, important files saved in the cloud, digital media available on my HDTV, sleep easy when a big website gets hacked, and can keep up with the cool kids while chatting about the latest hot app. Meanwhile, my parents and most of my friends tend to use their smartphones pretty much as they used their cell phone 5 years ago, would be lost if not for Verizon’s contact transfer service, have overflowing disorganized gmail inboxes, can’t play their media across devices, and confusingly brag that they don’t “get it” in regards to buzzworthy apps and websites.
Key Mindsets to Realize the Benefits of Your Technology
After that chat with Nathan, I decided that one of my resolutions for 2013 would be to help people close to me get more out of tech. In my opinion it all comes down to 2 key mindsets:
- The super early adopters are the power users. They sort out what is useful and valuable from what is just chaff or a fleeting fad, and they’re generally real good at it. They are trustworthy.
- An upfront investment will yield a fast and huge return in benefits. Usually this means taking some time to identify and set up the features available beyond the core basic set-up. But, it is indeed an upfront investment.
First Steps to Move From Tech Average to Tech Savvy
I recommend you do these in the following order, and commit to sticking with it!
- Secure your online accounts! If you know the password for any of your website logins, you’re doing it wrong. Even worse, if you are using the same couple passwords for every site, you’re asking for a major nightmare of identity theft. Use LastPass, and read this LifeHacker article for some honest, smart, simple explanation. Costs: Make no mistake, this will take a pretty serious upfront effort to change your old crappy passwords to secure ones, and to get used to using LastPass to handle your logins. Benefits: You are VERY secure, and can rest easy as websites announce that they have been hacked.
- Use Gmail (seriously – if you’re still on Hotmail or Yahoo, welcome to the 90’s – time to move to gmail). And use it effectively. First, unsubscribe to mailing lists that aren’t worth your time. Second, follow this article to set up labels and filters. Then get to know the Inbox Zero methodology and USE IT. Costs: Unsubscribing and setting up filters are EASY! Transitioning to Inbox Zero takes very little effort but usually will be a few weeks in transition. Benefits: You’ll never stress about email again!
- Sync your whole Gmail account to your smartphone – not just your email. Gmail provides excellent email, but their contact manager and calendar system can save you major headaches of lost contact information or scattered calendar items. Start here.
Those are the first three steps that I would take. Each of those have a few layers of potential, so keep an eye out for a more detailed post about them in the future. Good luck!