Become Tech Savvy hero image

First time checking out this series? You’ll get the most value by starting with the first article. Also, here is the series overview.

Note for the already tech savvy, IT professionals, and regular readers: this is designed as a resource as you help others or for those looking to become tech savvy on their own.

Background, Expectations, & Best Practices

Now that you’ve got the hang of operating in the positive state of a growth mindset, let’s look at how the stories we repeat shape us.

Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny. -Gandhi

This quote paints a clear picture that it’s the small thoughts and words we repeat day in and day out that create our habits and actions, which in turn create the results we see after a year, decade, and our lifetimes.

This is why it’s so crucial to change limiting beliefs into empowering beliefs. An effective way to do this is by using the quote I shared previously by Seth Godin as our filter:

Of course your behavior is justifiable. That’s not the question. The question is, is it helping?

With our clear goal to be tech savvy and a helpful narrative as our priority, let’s look at the most common limiting beliefs that will be valuable to transform. Success with changing these (or others you may have) will allow you to benefit fully from the strategy we’ll cover in future articles:

1. Unhelpful: “I’m just not tech-minded.”

Helpful: “I don’t understand technology as well as I’d like to, yet.” or “I know that even tech savvy people don’t know the answers to everything, what do they do when they’re stuck?”

  • Like Carol Dweck talks about in the TED Talk shared in the previous article, the power of ‘yet’ is massive! I won’t add this to each of the following examples, but adding ‘yet’ to the end of any limiting belief is a quick way to transform it into a helpful story about moving forward.
  • Just below is an amazing flow chart from xkcd that demystifies why some people seem so savvy with anything tech-related and how you can be too. This is also encouraging as it shows the logic for troubleshooting technology is no different than any other subject.
  • I know IT professionals who charge $150+/hour that need to pause and use this approach sometimes. After you continue building your experience and exposure, you’ll retain more and more knowledge, but no matter who you are, sometimes you’ll need to use this strategy.

Source: xkcd

  • I know you’re probably thinking about the fears that come along with just trying things and seeing what works. Don’t worry, that’s why we’ll cover having a backup strategy and Undo/Redo in the next article.

2. Unhelpful: “When I have a problem my ___________ takes care of it for me.”

Helpful: “When I have a problem I can’t figure out on my own I ask whoever is helping to me to explain what they’re doing and why so I can build my own skills as we find a solution.

  • This one is HUGE. We all know the proverb ‘a stitch in time saves nine.’ With tech it’s more like ‘a stitch in time saves 99.’ If we resign to letting others fix our issues without being a part of it we choose to continue the cycle of frustration, un-savviness, and dependence.
  • Changing this behavior alone will skyrocket your tech savviness with the regular experience and exposure you’ll build.
  • Concerned the people who help you might not want to take the extra time? Let them know upfront what and why you’re doing it and that in the long run, it will save you both lots of time. Odds are good they’ll not only agree but also appreciate what you’re doing and the future time savings.

3. Unhelpful: “Technology (or my device) doesn’t like me.”

Helpful: “This is working differently than I expected. What could I be missing or what could I try different? Have I tried closing or quitting apps? How about powering off my device for a bit. I know my devices don’t have it out for me, could my device just be malfunctioning? If I’ve tried everything I can think of, where can I get some support?”

  • It would sound weird if I said that stoplights don’t like me because they often turn red when I want them to be green and I see them acting up more than other people do. Your iPhone or computer isn’t any different, it’s not misbehaving specifically for you.
  • Usually, the things that make us feel this way are just features that have been unintentionally turned off or on, a need for deeper understanding, change in our expectations, or malfunctions/bugs.

4. Unhelpful: “I didn’t grow up with technology.”

Helpful: “I’m not as skilled with technology as others around me, and that’s alright. That doesn’t affect my choices and development. There are lots of things I’ve learned to do well that I didn’t grow up doing.”

  • The reason young people and children become tech savvy so fast from parents’ or grandparents’ perspectives is that they approach learning with curiosity, excitement, and a helpful mindset and internal narrative.
  • “Growing up with tech” isn’t the cause, but a correlation to young people’s tech savviness. The cause is consistent development of experience and exposure, which is a chosen behavior (that anyone can do 😁)
  • There’s not much value in comparing yourself to others (unless you’re using it as inspiration). Remember we often only see the product of someone’s effort and deliberate practice instead of the process that got them there. It’s much more useful and helpful to focus on your own goals and growth.

5. Unhelpful: “I’m too old to learn.”

Helpful: “I can learn something new whenever I want to.”

6. Unhelpful: “I’m technology illiterate.”

Helpful: “I feel technology illiterate now, but I don’t have to continue on this way.”

  • Think of a time in the past you felt similar and then learned and moved on from that point.
  • Remember, this is not a permanent feeling or state.

7. Unhelpful: “I hate passwords, why do I need one, anyway?”

Helpful: “Dealing with passwords feels like a mess. Could I find a better way to handle them? And why are they so important, anyway?”

Next Steps

Now that you’ve built some experience reframing limiting beliefs, you’ll be able to catch and flip them as you notice yourself or others repeating them. Before we get to the Do This section there’s one more thing to go over.

Beyond addressing the cornerstone of having the right mindset and telling ourselves helpful stories, this series is also unique in the way it will deconstruct savvy tech users’ behaviors. Here is how this series will approach providing clear and simple steps that will scaffold your experience and skills and lead to you to tech savviness:

My approach is modeled after Tim Ferriss’ DiSSS strategy for learning [the ‘i’ is just to help say the acronym]. He details this in The 4-Hour Chef, which is really about how to learn. If you’ve never heard of him before, here’s a snippet of what he does on his top-rated podcast as well as his books:

I deconstruct world-class performers from eclectic areas (investing, sports, business, art, etc.) to extract the tactics, tools, and routines you can use…

Here’s Tim’s philosophy on learning new things:

It is possible to become world class in just about anything in six months or less. Armed with the right framework, you can seemingly perform miracles.

The great part is if you can become world-class at something in a half year, you can absolutely master tech savviness in 6-12 months.

You don’t have to worry about these details much, but if you’re curious, here’s what DiSSS is and why this strategy produces results. The only thing you’ll need to take action on below is the last S. If you prefer you can head right to the Do This section at the bottom.

Sebastian Marshall has done an awesome job distilling Tim’s approach into one page:

DiSSS – Two Guiding Principles

  • Failure Points. Avoid things likely to trip you up.
  • The Margin Of Safety. Pick a plan that ensures great results.

Deconstruction – The Minimum Learnable Units

Break the skill down into bite-sized pieces & identify all failure points and all fundamental principles.

Find and interview the pros (especially the unconventional pros) in the field, and find out what they do in common, what trips beginners up, how they would teach you, their fav learning resources, other unconventional pros, etc.

Selection – Choose The Best 20% To Focus On

Do as little as possible, not as much as possible – Henk Kraaijenhof

Simple works. Complex fails. – Tim Ferriss

Find the MED (Minimum Effective Dose) you need to learn this skill. What teaches overall principles well? What micro-skills are used throughout the skill?

MED = The lowest volume, the lowest frequency, the fewest changes that get us to our desired result is what I label the minimal effective dose.

Sequencing – The Order In Which You’ll Learn

How do you cut time without cutting corners? – Tim Ferriss

What is the best order in which to learn? How can you avoid all the tripping points and learn all the fundamental principles and micro-skills? How can you make sure you’ll stick with it?

Stakes – Real Life Consequences

What rewards or punishments can you put in place that will ensure you will follow through? People counting on you? Money on the line?

If you’d like to listen to these ideas in full detail and context, check out the episode The Art and Science of Learning Anything Faster.

Do This

1. Write down three limiting beliefs that you’ve transformed into helpful beliefs.

2. Decide on and set your stakes for becoming tech savvy. stickk is a great free tool. You set your goal with a timeline, pick your stakes (including the option for money on the line for a charity or anti-charity) have someone be your referee, and ask for people to support you.

You can, of course, setup other ways to handle the stakes, but no matter what you choose, don’t skip this!

3. Schedule at least 15 minutes a week on your calendar to reflect on your weekly progress and growth.

What limiting beliefs have you dealt with and overcome or helped someone else with?

Next: Priority #1 – How to set up automatic backups in macOS and iOS

Previous: If you truly want to become tech savvy, you’ll need this…

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About the Author

Michael Potuck

Michael is an editor for 9to5Mac. Since joining in 2016 he has written more than 3,000 articles including breaking news, reviews, and detailed comparisons and tutorials.