Are You Keeping Up With Technology?

Are You Keeping Up With Technology?

There are days I get tired of hearing about all the techy stuff I’m supposed to learn – and keep in mind, I’m already pretty savvy.

It’s not that I don’t like to learn – I do. But it seems there’s so much we’re being told to learn… and each day, something new is added to that list.

A few years ago, all you needed to know was how to blog.

These days, that’s not enough. Now you need to know how to write viral posts, create downloadable PDFS, manipulate small designs, send out newsletters, build lists, create videos, give presentations, offer webinars…

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

It’s crazy. Are business owners truly expected to learn everything there is to know about the online world? What happened to just doing some plain ol’ business?

And while we’re asking questions, how are business owners supposed to keep up? Technology evolves and advances at warp speed. By the time you’ve finished learning something new, it’s old.

All the knowledge you acquired is outdated already. Which means you need to learn more.

While you’re busy learning all this latest, greatest stuff, you’re not paying attention to your business. You’re not doing the work that you need to be doing.

Like managing your company. Or working for your clients. Or improving your products.

That’s pretty important stuff.

Plus, you only have 24 hours in a day. Even less if you opt to sleep, eat and go to the bathroom from time to time.

You have even less time to work and learn if you have a family.

And friends.

And a cat. Or maybe a fish.

By the time you try to fit everything – life, work, learning – into your day, you end up with no time for yourself. (You may not have much of a marriage left either.)

This makes no sense.

And even if by some miracle you manage to do all you’re supposed to do and learn all you’re supposed to learn and keep everyone happy in the meantime…

Well. You’re exhausted.

Hell. Something’s got to give, right?

Look, if something has to give, try not to let it be you. You’re pretty vital to this whole online business thing.

Without you, your business tanks. Your income stalls. Your health goes down the drain. And probably your sanity with it.

So how about slowing down? How about taking it one step at a time?

I know, I know. This flies in the face of current beliefs propagated by impressive Internet super-humans who believe people are built to operate at warp speed without rest or respite.

These guys seem to learn all the latest technology with a snap of the fingers. They sometimes make you feel inadequate. Or slow. Or dumb. Or lazy, outdated dinosaurs.

Give me a break.

I believe you can only do so much. Yes, you need to spend time building your business. Yes, you need to spend time learning new things.

But let’s not go nuts over it, hm? Take things slow. Just do what you can, a little each day. Stop kicking yourself that you don’t know how to do all the cool, crazy stuff you can do with technology.

You’ll get farther with your business when you have this attitude. Because your business isn’t learning everything under the sun until you’ve become a literal ‘net know-it-all guru.

Your business is your business. Remember that.

So get a grip. Focus on what matters. Start like this:

  1. Make a list of everything you feel you need to do and learn for your business. It’s probably going to be a really long list, but that’s okay.
  2. Prioritize your list. Stick the tasks you feel will bring you most money fastest at the top. Stick the “would like to learn this one day” at the bottom.
  3. Each day, pick the most important, highest-priority task at the top of the list to work on.

And just do it. Forget the rest.

If you accomplish the task at the top of the list that you were working on, great! Strike it off the list, pat yourself on the back, and move to the next task.

The stuff that’s at the bottom?

It can wait. It isn’t really that important. So what if you don’t get to it for months? So what if you don’t learn how to do it now? So what if you don’t know how to do that thing everyone else knows how to do?

At least you have a business – one that’s growing, thriving and succeeding because of your attention.

Eventually you’ll get to the stuff you’d love to learn. It’s on your list, right? And as you work through your high-priority items that help you bring clients and steady income, the low-priority stuff at the bottom moves up.

One day, the stuff you want to learn will be number one. And by then, you’ll have the income and time to learn how to do it.

Post by James Chartrand

James Chartrand is an expert copywriter and the owner of Men with Pens and Damn Fine Words, the game-changing writing course for business owners. She loves the color blue, her kids, Nike sneakers and ice skating.

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  1. James, Merci for writing this JUST for me.

    Susan

  2. This post was so smoking and spot on that it reminded me of your previous page design of a couple of years ago. The thing here, though, is I looked for holes in your argument and couldn’t find any. Maybe you upgraded to a stun gun or something. :)

  3. Hi James,

    Yes, do your business on your own terms. We’re continuously being galloped to the edge of the cliff with folks shouting, “faster, faster.”

    I made a self-pledge do what works for me, what interest me, and what best serves my clients. We don’t need to take on every new technology. The marketers of those products want us to believe that – it’s not true and a sure fire way to end up stressed and sick.

    For me, I try to marry the high tech with the low tech, so I still feel human.

    Enjoyed the post! G.

    • I always ask myself, “Okay, if I learn this, how much money can it make me?” Very often, the answer is zero. It may make my life a little better or save a touch of time, but there isn’t much that would wildly pad my bank account enough to make the month of learning curve worth it.

  4. Just when a person learns what they need to know to get the job done, the corporations change everything operating system changes that are going to be happening in the near future with windows, linux (already happening there) and the mac os.

    Thanks for the sweet article!!

    • Windows made me laugh – I think they’ve gone through something like 20 versions in the past five years, each wildly different looking… and none of them much better than the last.

      (Mac, please don’t start doing that, eh?)

  5. THANK YOU!

    I just had to jerk my own chain yesterday because I start getting scared that one day I’ll have my head down doing business and then look up to discover that the entire paradigm has shifted without my knowledge and I’m hanging out over a precipice on thin air, just waiting to fall, like Wile E. Coyote. Sometimes that fear causes me to lose focus on the BUSINESS, which of course slows down the BUSINESS.

    Those of us lucky enough to be in this position need to trust in our own mental agility and just keep one eye on the rear and side mirrors while we focus on moving forward.

    Perfect post for a perfect Friday morning.

    • Heh. While I was writing this post, I grumbled mentally: “People will think I’m becoming a stubborn dinosaur who refuses to get with the times.”

      Then I thought, “Huh. So what? I’m still successful!”

      :)

      (PS: I am not a dinosaur. Or, if I am, I’m a very young and nubile looking one. Stubborn, though, is up for debate.)

  6. Thanks James. This is a good start to a busy day.

  7. Great advice…. and out source! You don’t have to do it all! I’m an idiot with a lot of techie things but instead of trying to keep up, I outsource some of these ‘unlearned areas’ to other who in turn keep me up-to-date. If you want to grow, you have to learn to let go.

    • OUTSOURCE! That should become a battle cry. I take a walk down the street and I see all these businesses that have staff, employees, partners, volunteers… THAT makes sense.

      Why is it that the minute we step online, we think we have to do it all?

  8. James, James, James! Totally on point … as usual! Just this week I chose to unsubscribe from quite a few email newsletters (not yours, obviously). I’ve been receiving dozens a day offering ebooks, webinars, videos, and more. What I began to recognize was that instead of benefiting from such excellent offerings the abundance was creating feelings of incompetency, confusion and increased lack of focus.

    I listed down–not as comprehensively as you suggested here, which I’ll do–what’s most important, placed them on my Google to-do list, got a kitchen timer and started nailing them ONE step at a time.

    Although that appears to be working better, I’m still a little skeptical that, as you say, “Eventually you’ll get to the stuff you’d love to learn.” It’s been so long since I’ve gotten to those. Problem is that they don’t always make it on the list. They’re too often the “I’ll get to them someday” items *sigh*. Need to add them….

    And, oh yah, you just reminded me to put “feed neglected, ailing pet” on the list. The fish thanks you.

    • You know what? The stuff that you never get to? The stuff you think, “Someday I’ll…” Best advice is to take a deep breath, brace yourself and say this aloud:

      “Okay, who am I kidding. I’m NEVER going to do this. If I had wanted to, I would’ve done it by now. And feeling guilty and shitty about not doing this is taking up space in my life. So now that I’ve admitted I’m never going to do this… Damn! I feel a lot better!”

      Tried and true. Works. Do it :)

  9. As an artist I find myself always trying to find a happy medium (no pun intended) between making art and maintaining an online presence. These days an artist really doesn’t have a choice about whether this is important or not, unless they really don’t care if anyone sees their work or not.

    It’s easy to get caught up in the hype between Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and other Social Media (oh how I’m beginning to dislike that phrase!). Add a couple of online Art Forums to participate in, some blogs to follow, new stuff to discover and you have spent half a day ‘twittering around!” BTW that was a phrase I used long before Twitter was even thought of.

    I try to handle it by spending time doing these things when my creative juices are not at their highest, or when taking small breaks from more intense work.

    Another thing that I do is try to evaluate whether the time spent this way is beneficial or not. For example; Google Analytics tells me that I don’t get very many referrals to my website from one particular online art forum to which I belong, so I have cut back drastically on the time I spend there. I didn’t cut it out altogether because maybe some of these people go to my website at another time by searching for my name. Besides I enjoy that site and when you are being ‘social’ it has to be real and not contrived.

    It does all end up being rather a lot to ask of one person, and you can only spread yourself so thin before you end up looking transparent. lol! In other words people will see through you if you are being disingenious and too self-serving.

    Thanks for your article reaffirming my conclusions that I don’t have to do it all, all the time, and do it perfectly too! With that in mind, I’m off to paint…I may blog today and I may not! I am not going to worry about it though!

    PS (I try not to miss keeping up with your blog…it’s never a waste of time!) :)

    • Joan,

      Love this: “… and you can only spread yourself so thin before you end up looking transparent. lol! In other words people will see through you if you are being disingenious and too self-serving.”

    • It’s good that you’re trying new things, for sure. I encourage that. I try new things all the time! But when they take up TOO much of my time… then I’m not happy.

      And quite frankly, I’m not on this earth to be miserable.

      I like that you’re being smart and measuring impact. “Okay, let’s try this for a while… not working? Forget it!” The stuff that does work, well, then that becomes higher priority, right? You learn a little more, and you get better results.

      That’s a much healthier way, I think!

  10. Your entire business platform nowadays is based on technology. Technological advantage = business advantage if you’re smart enough to figure out how to exploit it. In order for that to happen you have to know what the hell’s going on. Glad you’re also of this mind, James. Good stuff!

    • Aye! Completely agree. The trick is to figure out which technology gives you the best advantage – and which just wastes your time trying to keep up with the cool kids.

      (Holy beards, blogger man! Been a while since I’d seen a pic! Very classy :) )

  11. Good post. One more thing people can do is hire someone to do certain things for you. Whatever industry you are in, you are the most important aspect of your business, only you can run it best and know where it needs to go. Therefore, if you don’t have time for learning how to update your website when things break, find a developer. If you need new photos, hire someone to shoot some ones for you or have them do the research on stock photos sites. Assigning these things out will cost you some money, but your sanity is worth the price.

    • Not only that, but hiring out usually gets you better results in less time – what might’ve taken you six months to finally get going with could be done in a week or two when you hire a pro!

  12. I’m so far behind on the tech stuff, I don’t even know what to put at the top of the list. I walked around a techy store the other day, and didn’t even recognize much of the “HOT LIST”.

    Maybe we should start a blog or organization called “dinosaurs r us”.

    And what is really scary, is my friends and family think I am the techy person. *not funny at all*

  13. I work in the technology sector – mostly for large enterprise software companies. I typically know squat about my clients’ products or services. I am definitely NOT a tech expert.

    Interestingly enough, I often find that the flipped side of your argument rings true as well. While my clients may be technology gurus, rarely do they really understand about messaging, storytelling, copywriting…they even struggle with effective blogging and social media strategy.

    So perhaps the takeaway is that nobody can be all things to all people. Expertise in all areas is unattainable. And you are right – prioritizing, recognizing your strengths, outsourcing when appropriate, and letting go now and then is always the right strategy.

    Great post, as always!

  14. Trying to do everything yourself and keeping up with every new update or must-do (especially ones that are foisted on you) is a surefire recipe for stress that ultimately leads to unhappiness. I’m a firm believer of specialization and as such, I agree with you when it comes to hiring pros or collaborating with people with complementary expertise when faced with tasks that are well beyond my specialty. On the flip side, I’m not beyond trying new things that would complement my existing skills. The trick then is to know the difference and pursue the ones that are worth your attention.

  15. Brad Apling says:

    It goes back to the saying “Jack of all trades, master of none”.
    If a person REALLY wants to know a little something about everything, go exhaust yourself. [it really will be ‘little’ because you won’t be able to know everything!]
    But if a person wants to bring about the best quality in their work and still feel in control of their life rather than life controlling them, then choose a couple areas that connect with and compliment each other and nurture them.
    You’ll respect yourself in the morning.

  16. James,

    This is a really good post. It is also a very valuable lesson in creating content for one’s blog when one feel he is running out of it. I learned much of this stuff in most posts about achieving goals. You were genius enough to take that same approach and apply it to a really specific issue that a lot of us bloggers feel. Thank You for doing it whether you realized it or not. Uh oh, my idea bulb is flashing.

  17. Someone had to say this. Thank you! Thank you! As a Social Media Marketing Consultant I feel I have to be completely up to date on everything and keep my own presence cranking. But just like you said – I can’t keep it up. I justify posting and writing a blog article and publishing a LinkedIn update, etc. etc. But the truth is while I can justify that I “need” do these things, I am neglecting the things that will actually result in billable hours! I am feeling angry with the inbound marketing “experts” who say our followers want 4 posts per day from us on each venue. I don’t buy it. I don’t want to read through all that stuff from the people I follow. Do you?

  18. I agree — you don’t have to become completely up-to-date on EVERYTHING but don’t ignore the ideas and/or bits of software that can save you time. I’ve recently learned how to use Text-Expander and this fabulous piece of software has saved me so much time every day! Don’t ignore the tools and techniques that can help save you time!!!!

  19. I think we’ve all felt like this and feel like this from time to time. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed. You’ve brought the focus exactly where it should be–on your top priorities. It’s easy to feel like you have to learn and do everything, but the reality is you don’t. Thanks for the reminder!

  20. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed with everything that bloggers can do now a days. Learning how to podcast, create and edit podcasts, build a subscriber list, split test and on and on….

    I have to agree with you that it can all be learned in time, but as long as you stick with the fundamentals, create awareness and get your content out I think anyone can be successful.

    One of the biggest mistakes many new bloggers make is trying to learn everything and master everything immediately.

    This however ends up being more frustrating than pleasurable.

    Keep it simple and celebrate the small wins.

  21. it is not hard to build your business and learn new techy things and spend time with family because for me I am learning new things everyday while I am building my business at the same time, maybe because I am a technology lover and I enjoy it .

  22. I am not sure I agree. Maybe I’m in the minority here, but it seems sometimes it’s better to know more and actually learn what you’re doing the correct way then keep feeling insecure that you don’t know what’s going on. WordPress is a good example. I was blogging, but once I started my own website it looked terrible. I hired somebody, but until I learned how to post videos, find plugins and size pictures I couldn’t have a good-looking site.

    I have been going to Google/Youtube every week to learn how to create a channel with a trailer and get views and subscribers. Technology is here to stay and everything is going mobile. There are robot toys teaching kids to code at 8 years old. If you don’t keep up the internet will just pass you by.

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