For those of us running our own business or working in tech, it’s easy to feel in over our heads. When we’re struggling to figure out a tech problem, it sometimes feels like the more we try to work it out, the less likely we’ll actually be able to solve it. Even worse, is when we try to deal with these problems all on our own. We’re staring at our screen, at the same piece of code, or software, or website for what seems like hours. The lines begin to blur. We begin to wonder what we’re even looking at anymore.
Enter tech overwhelm. You’re so wound up in your problem, in your work, you no longer know how to practically tackle it. You’re so caught up in your emotions, you may begin to think thoughts like,
“I’m just not a tech person”
“I’m not as tech-savvy as I thought I was”
“I’ll never be able to figure this out”
When this happens, slow down and take a breath, and remember this is only fear talking. These are only slight variations of the ever so present “I’m not smart enough” or “I’m not good enough”. Instead of getting worked up inside your head, remember these key points the next time your frustration gets to the “I want to throw my laptop across my bedroom” level.
Remember that no one really has it all figured out.
Your problem is less about you than you think. Problems are inherent in a discipline where one of the main skills required to succeed is…you guessed it, problem-solving. You’re essentially solving a lot of little problems, day in and day out. It can take some getting used to at first. But every time you encounter a problem that seems unsolvable, just remembered how many of those completely “unsolvable” problems you’ve solved in the past.
Realise this is part of the parcel when working in tech, not something inherent in you, your intelligence, or your skills. You’ll spend a lot of time googling things and looking things up in forums. There is a wealth of information out there for the exact reason that everyone has gone through the exact same things as you. They’ve had the same questions, the same frustrations and the same ‘aha’ moments. Remember that.
I was recently on the phone with a friend, a friend whose programming and coding skills I consider to be much more advanced than my own. I had called him to see if he could take a look at something I was working on and give me a hand. I expected it to be an easy fix for him, something I was obviously missing. I prefaced myself, saying “I’ve just been working on this for so long” and “I’m sure this will make more sense to you than to me”.
He went through the same process that I did. He did some troubleshooting. He played around with the software. He inspected the code. He told me also finds this specific program tricky and not very intuitive.
It was not an easy fix, it required problem-solving.
He didn’t give me a quick fix answer, but he gave me something more valuable than that.
He made me realize our job is not to have all the answers, it’s to find them. It’s to discover them, to uncover them. And sometimes when we do find the answer, we may not even understand exactly why it’s the right solution. We may feel dissatisfied, yearning to understand anything and everything.
Our real job is ultimately to keep learning. No matter how much of an expert we may be in something, life and technology force us to keep up. To learn a new programming language, to switch software, to adapt to new ways of doing things. And then we’re back to problem-solving. To figuring things out. To being a beginner.
We must seek help when we need it.
We can’t continuously approach problems all on our own and expect to get better. We can’t isolate ourselves when collaboration is where the magic happens.
Sometimes we just need a separate set of eyes to see what we can’t. Whether it’s calling a friend or joining a Facebook group, heading to a coworking space instead of working from home, or even hiring a mentor, a coach or virtual assistant, we need to allow ourselves be helped.
Get out of our heads and get outside.
I don’t know about you, but when I’m fiercely working away at something I rarely think to take a break. While it may seem like we should just push on to finish something, we’re actually working against ourselves by refusing to rest.
Studies show that the most productive people take a 17-minute break every hour. We’re only fooling ourselves into thinking we’re hardworking by spending long stretches at our computer on the same task. Not only is it not productive, it’s not healthy. The human body was not made to spend 8-10 hours sitting each day.
So when you do get up to take a break, remember to stretch and get out of your head. Get some sunshine on your face by taking a walk outside, or enjoy some socializing and forget about work for a while.
Real success comes from knowing you’re resourceful enough to figure things out. So believe in your skills and capabilities, and don’t allow yourself to get stuck in a mental rut. Remember we’re all in this together, and life exists outside of your screen too.