First, a confession: Some of my friends jokingly refer to me as anti-technology. I just don’t trust things right away. I’m not the kind of guy that you’ll find camping out on the night before some new Apple product release (and I LOVE Apple). In fact, I’ve been known to wait a few years till I buy into something “new”, that is, when it’s old. Well, not vintage old, I mean, the new model of the old idea. I like to know something is proven before I participate in it, that’s all.

Throughout my life, I have been late on trends such as: microwaves, email, flat panel TVs, and smart phones. And I am purposely saying all of this to relate to those of you out there who are also a little behind on the times.

But… And, of course, there had to be a but…

BUT there have to be lines drawn somewhere. You cannot be so behind that you boot yourself out of the game entirely. This is the technology age (you did know that, didn’t you?) and while I believe it’s what you do with the technology and not the technology itself that counts, you MUST be up-to-date enough for your productivity and communications to run smoothly.

Example: I worked at one place with an office printer that malfunctioned frequently. It happened often enough that it really held up progress. Every time it went out of whack, we’d have to tinker around for a good long while, powering off machines and rebooting computers, just to get a few pages made. Cumulatively, it ate up lots of hours. Crazy thing is there was a brand new printer in storage that the boss didn’t want to use until the old one was good and dead. I get it, I’m down to be scrappy, and anyone who’s read my Baller on a Budget posts knows how I looove to save a dollar. But in this case, the cons far outweighed the pros.
And it got me thinking about how people might be using antiquated thinking as well as antiquated technology. Is driving an already clunky printer further into the ground really a benefit – in the short or the long term? How much of this tactic was truly about money (after all, time is money, especially when you’re paying employees by the hour)? And how much of it may have also been about convenience? The convenience of not having to do and learn something new, in this case, to have to unbox and setup a new device.

Move the ball forward. I already made clear that this isn’t about being trendy. But let’s get real…

EMAIL: Are you still on Yahoo or Hotmail or AOL?! Not to be bossy but seriously, I’m doing you a favor when I say, GET OFF IT NOW. These reek of spam and amateur night. Sign up for Gmail or something better, immediately. I can’t begin to tell you how your world will open up with features such as message organization, photo albums, calendar, gchat, and so on. Do this now.

GROUPS: Are you still managing groups on Yahoo? Have mercy. Do you know that people you add to a Yahoo group are required to have a Yahoo email address to join and manage their subscription? (Blech!) That means you will seriously inconvenience your guests, meaning they’ll be less likely to opt in. Plus, it’s super easy to migrate your group’s current members to a new Google Group – it’s free and people can use whatever email they wish. Get out of the dinosaur age and please join the party.

COMPUTER PROGRAMS AND WEB TOOLS: Especially if you’re going to be DIY, you’re going to have to get down with some basics. And it’s important to note that the bar for basics is steadily rising every year. If you’re not smart about it, you can quickly miss the boat. Start tinkering with social networks: WordPress and blogging in general, Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr. And, if you already have a Mac, train yourself on its media tools or at least attend the seminars at the Apple store to learn how to use them. Again, this is ALL free so what’s the wait?

As I write to you now, I am typing on an ancient desktop PC. I can’t even remember how old it is. Maybe ten years! But how I use it isn’t ten years in the past. I stay informed and aim for the future. You don’t need all the newest, coolest toys. But it is imperative that you at least stay current on how you relate to your technology and keep up on best practices. Having the ability to upgrade and not doing so is tantamount to self-imposed starvation. Denial isn’t just a river in Egypt. It’s the reason that your standards deteriorate and you fall out of relevance. Stay computer savvy and make the best use of all your available tools.