on a cork notice board

My work today should have been easy.

I wanted to take a four-minute clip from the video interview Kerri Lowe of Story Shelter did with me and feature it on this blog.

Only it didn’t go as planned. Last month I took a “How to use I-movie” course on-line (Lynda.com) and edited my first video. (Yeah me!) But today as I edit using the software, I hit a problem and despite my rapid-fire google searches, I can’t find the answers I need.

Maybe the solution is to use a more robust video editing software like Adobe’s Premier Elements. I bought it for a Digital Storytelling class last year – and have been meaning to learn it – so today’s the day. I dial up Lynda-com and choose a “Getting Started with Premier Elements” class.

As the training video starts, I notice that my Saturday is disappearing fast and the blue fall sky outside is stunningly beautiful.

If I had an IT staff or a teenager at home, this would be easy.

 But today I’m feeling dumb. Because I’m stuck with THE QUESTION I CANNOT ANSWER.

This has been happening a lot these days – feeling stuck with questions that even the experts (or expert want-to-be’s) who hang out in every corner of the Internet – can’t seem to answer. These are not tough questions:

  • Why isn’t the volume key on my new keyboard working?
  • Why is my computer so slow to boot up?
  • Why isn’t my email sync-ing across my devices even though I’ve done everything I’m supposed to?
  • And why the hell did the last five months of my Quickbooks entries mysteriously disappear between sessions?

I love having access to the productivity and social media tools that allow me to work independently, effectively. Yet they each come with a learning curve.

Last year, I tried to learn (beginner’s versions) WordPress, MailChimp, Hootsuite, Evernote, Skype, Gmail, WiseStamp, Google Apps for business, Insightly, Imovie, among others, while learning to blog, and use Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn. (If you don’t recognize the names, be happy that you don’t need to know.)

Each new learning opens the door to the possibility of frustration– and the likelihood of encountering ANOTHER FRIGGIN QUESTION I CAN’T ANSWER.

 I remember how my Mother would call me, hysterical, from her retirement center. I’d hear her shaky voice and prepare to call 9-1-1 before asking, “Mom, what’s wrong?”
 “I’m so frustrated! I can’t get my e-mail to work,” she’d moan.

I ‘d want to laugh. “I’ll show you in person, Mom – next trip,” I’d say, relieved. I’m glad I’d didn’t laugh, because these days I recognize those desperate feelings in myself – when I need to be able to DO something on the computer and it’s just not working.

Maybe in the future I’ll delegate stuff out. But today, I want to understand how to use the tools that are key to my business. So I keep learning.

Until I crash.

 How do you deal with technology overload?

Maybe the first step to recovery is to acknowledge the problem: that the level of (often great) resources available to me as a solo entrepreneur exceeds my ability to understand and use them. (I wasn’t born with a Gameboy in my crib.)

W. Edwards Deming, the statistician and management consultant whose pioneering work in Japan led to the quality movement, used to chastise executives for pushing or punishing employees for what were the failings of their business systems. (“A bad system will beat a good person every time.”)

Sometimes, working “more, faster, smarter” just won’t cut it.

Sometimes, I need to acknowledge there’s a limit to what I can do. Perhaps I can’t speed-learn Premier Elements in 30 minutes.

That’s why today, while the sun is still out, I’m going back out to the garden. The interview clip can wait.

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