When I embarked on my travel writing journey at the Ultimate Travel Writing Workshop in 2018, I was open to learning the ins and outs of being a travel writer.
However, if I had known that my new travel writing career would require considerable computer skills, I never would have signed up.
And what a shame that would have been.
Are you wondering how I managed to get through life with only a rudimentary knowledge of computer skills?
Well, in my former career, I had an office manager who was much better and faster at these things than me. That and I am technically challenged. I have a fear of technology, also known as technophobia. It made me want to give up before I reached my goal of becoming a travel writer.
My son lost his patience with me. He has long since refused to bail me out—it’s humiliating to have him continually complain, “Mom! It’s not that hard…it’s intuitive; just figure it out!”
Well, I said to him indignantly—it is hard—and it’s not intuitive to me! And then I remind him that I taught him to tie his shoes. I have been close to tears dealing with iMac issues in a family of PC users.
You Are Not Alone
You’re not the only person in the world with technology fears and difficulties.It is not uncommon. I try not to be intimidated by tech-savvy colleagues who effortlessly click and scroll on their devices, upping their game with their digital capabilities.
My first task after returning home from the writing workshop was creating an excel spreadsheet of potential publications, and I was embarrassed to admit that I didn’t know how to make a spreadsheet. Trying to figure out how to add a hyperlink to a manuscript made my anxiety soar. Resizing, captioning, and sending photos to an editor in Dropbox used to fill me with dread.
My mission is to convince you that if I can do it, you can do it. Resist the urge to let your current knowledge dictate your future. Instead, boldly face your technology fears.
Here are eight tips from a recovering technophobe to help you overcome your tech challenges and navigate the truly not-so-scary waters.
1. Get excited. Transform your fear into positive energy and get excited about learning something new.
2. Take a class. My local community college offers continuing education classes in all kinds of subjects—so why not take a course in whatever tech challenge is making you sweat, be it Excel, Word, or photo editing? Many community colleges even provide low-cost or free tech classes to seniors.
3. Play. Click things, drag things around, double-click things, observe, and remember what the various things do. Download apps on your tablet or phone and play with them. Like my son tells me, “Stop worrying about breaking something.”
4. Try to solve it yourself first. Don’t give up so quickly and give yourself a lot of credit whenever you figure something out. Be willing to make mistakes and stick with it.
5. Make Google and YouTube your friends. Got a question about how to do something? Google it. Want to know why your printer has suddenly started printing weird characters? Google it.
You can also use the search bar on YouTube. Need to know how to crop a photo on your computer? For every problem, YouTube has videos that guide you step by step.
6. Have tech support on your speed dial. I swear that the Apple support team knows my number when I call, and yet they are upbeat and helpful no matter how many times I need assistance.
7. Reboot. When something goes haywire and you have no idea why, reboot. This is sound advice for all digital equipment. My phone was on the fritz last week, I rebooted, and voila, it worked!
8. Take a step back. When I am frustrated and can’t figure something out, that is my cue to take a break. I go for a walk, empty the dishwasher, or do any other non-tech activity to give my brain a rest and time to calm down. It’s amazing how a fresh attitude helps me find the solution that I couldn’t see before.
I’ve learned I’m more capable than I thought, and I keep adding tools to my toolbox. The more you know, the more confident you will feel. Your willingness to learn and apply what you know determines your success.
You can do it, and you will feel such a sense of accomplishment when you do.