How to become tech-savvy, even if you hate tech

Tips from a librarian who found a way to become tech-savvy without learning to code, wasting time with online tutorials or joining any online communities. Not even Facebook.
Apr 17
Title: How to become tech-savvy even if you hate tech

Is it possible to be tech-savvy without always being connected?

You have wondered, haven't you?

Is it actually possible to live your life without it being a media event?1

Is it possible to understand the lingo without feeling like you’re deciphering a foreign language?

Can you benefit from what’s happening on social media without having to learn how to use it?

Yes, it is possible.

And you can.

Because if my friend Sam can; you can too.

Sam is 55 years old and has been a librarian for over 25 years. She has had many jobs - from reference and circulation, to outreach and programme development.

Sam isn’t on social media; not even Facebook.2

She also has absolutely no tolerance for people who prefer to look at a screen rather than what’s going on around them.

But Sam isn’t worried about her tech skills.

She doesn’t feel overwhelmed by how quickly new online tools replace old ones. Sam also knows the latest digital trends in her field and she finds other tech-savvy librarians often ask her for her opinion.

So what did Sam do to become tech-savvy without being stymied by the tech?

how to improve your digital practice in 5 steps

3 steps to become tech-savvy

Don't start by learning to code

Learning to code is all the rage these days. Howver when it comes to being tech-savvy without being stymied by the tech, learning to code is an ambitious goal.

And because it is ambitious, it is the wrong place to start.

Yes, I know this goes against what we often hear – aim high, shoot for the stars, dream big etc.

But who cares? If you feel overwhelmed and paralysed by the thought of becoming tech-savvy then the only way to overcome your fear is to start small.3

In fact, just starting is an achievement worth celebrating.

Sam used to believe she couldn't be tech-savvy like her colleagues.

Sometimes when she felt she had grasped what they were saying, it unexpectedly burst like a bubble and all that remained was confusion. It made her feel stupid and dumb. And she didn’t like feeling that way.

So rather than trying to upskill in all areas of her work, Sam started with an area she enjoyed (staff training). And as a result her expectations changed from ‘I want to be a better with tech’ to ‘I want to know what online tools can help me with staff training’.4

By starting small Sam’s feelings changed. She wasn’t going to feel stupid or dumb anymore. She was going to be even better at staff training!

How to start:

  1. It is easy to feel overwhelmed by the ever-changing digital environment. When you feel overwhelmed remember your inner reference librarian motto: ‘I am sorry I don’t know the answer to your question, but let’s see if we can find out’.
  2. Make a list of all the things you enjoy doing at work. Then choose ONE. Start small with just one. We enjoy doing things we are good at. When you choose something you enjoy it develops your strengths and increases your motivation to learn.
  3. Now list all the things you could explore in the one area you are interested in. It doesn't matter how many things are on this list because you can change it as you become more tech-savvy.

Be motivated to learn about tech by choosing something you enjoy. #TheLibraryBoss

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Don't waste time with online tutorials

Sam gets stressed when she feels like she is wasting time. A 5 minute video might contain only 30 seconds of relevant information. A 6 week online class might contain so much jargon that it makes no sense at all. Sam believes the stress isn't worth the effort.

Instead of watching videos or taking online classes to increase her digital knowledge Sam subscribes to newsletters and blogs.

It is so much less stressful.

New content arrives in her inbox and it sits there until she gets a chance to read it. Sometimes she just skims the headlines. And sometimes she clicks on every single link. It really depends on how much time she has and how curious she is.

By reading blogs Sam has become more aware of how ‘things digital’ are being used by others to do things differently, smarter and more effectively.5

But the biggest benefit is that Sam doesn’t have to spend hours each week searching online for information.

And she can’t believe how easy it is.

How to spend your time:

  1. Use your reference interview techniques and your search skills to increase your digital knowledge. Be curious about developments in your area of interest, even if you don’t actually use them.
  2. Subscribe to blogs or newsletters to keep up to date in an area you enjoy. Ask your colleagues what blogs or newsletters they subscribe to and save yourself the trouble of searching through the online haystack. If you subscribe to a blog that isn’t useful then you can always unsubscribe. 🙂
  3. Skim the headlines and introductions. You will get a great overview of what is going on in your area of interest without having to read every single blog post.

Looking for a stress-free way to increase your digital knowledge? Subscribe to blogs. #TheLibraryBoss

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Don't join an online community

Sam’s confidence in technology grew the more she read. She still hadn't joined social media. Neither was she spending more time online. But she was talking with her colleagues more often.

Sam suggested new ways of doing things because she had read about how other libraries had done things. She also understood most of the conversations with her more tech-savvy colleagues. She doesn’t feel she is able to contribute yet, but at least she no longer felt as if they were speaking a foreign language!

Sam also noticed that because she was sharing more tech-related stuff, others were asking her about tech-related stuff.

How to share:

  1. Online communities can be great for connecting with people who have similar interests as you. But it can also be daunting to share information with people you don’t know well. Conversations require courage and confidence so start by sharing with people you know well, like your colleagues.
  2. Conversations build trust – in both online communities and face-to-face conversations. When you share what you know with others in an online community people can often be overwhelmed with information and it is difficult for them to respond thoughtfully. In face-to-face conversations there are fewer distractions so people are more likely to respond to you by sharing what they know.
  3. Conversations create ripples. When you share what you learn with your colleagues, you will find your colleagues are more likely to share what they know with you.

When you share what you know with others they are more likely to share what they know with you #TheLibraryBoss

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Do you want to be tech-savvy without always being connected? You can.

Do you want to understand the lingo without feeling like you’re deciphering a foreign language? You can.

Do you want to benefit from what’s happening on social media without having to learn how to use it? You can.

Because if Sam can; you can.

Are you ready to do this?

Or are you going to sit there thinking you can’t?

The choice is yours.

Do you use any of these tips to help you become tech-savvy? Feel free to brag about your success in the comments! 🙂

how to keep up-to-date when you barely have time to browse

Spark Notes

  • There is a lot of pressure to be capable and confident in a digital environment. I was curious to explore how you could be tech-savvy without an online presence.
  • I wanted to write something unexpected but not grandiose.
  • Sam is real. And she really does do the things I have described. I have excluded identifying details because she doesn’t like being online.
  • 1 A couple of humourous posts on the topic: 'I refuse to get a smartphone and it seems to really upset people' or 'Yes I hate technology'.
  • 2 Julia Roberts doesn't like always being connected either.
  • 3 Joshua Becker and others say just one small step down the right path is all you need to start heading in the right direction.
  • 4 Successful learning is realistic, achievable and most importantly enjoyable. It applies to learning a new language as well as becoming tech-savvy.
  • 5 Seth Godin says read more blogs. So... read more blogs.
  • Image by Ben White on Unsplash.
  • Jo Keleher says:

    Have tried to access the How To Improve Your Digital Practice In 5 Steps – but I haven’t received the email to verify. I subscribed to Library Boss several weeks ago. Is there a glitch? Thanks Jo Keleher

    • Sally Pewhairangi says:

      Oh no!

      That’s not good at all Jo 🙁
      I have sent you an email to see if I can resolve this for you asap.

      Thanks for letting me know Jo.

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