With the myriad of tech tools on the market, it can be daunting to pick the best one. I’m not talking “best” as in “it gets the job done”. I’m talking about going a step further and finding a tool that fits how you work, complements how you think, and solves the problem you want to solve. No easy feat to be sure.
As someone who loves technology, I’ve tried out my fair share of tech tools (pretty sure my original Palm Pilot is laying around somewhere). And along with drawers full of once-loved gadgets, I’ve also compiled a few pointers that help make the tech tool selection process a little smoother.
Tech Tools Tip #1 – Know Yourself
A little introspection is useful when selecting a new tech tool. You need to know how you think and how you like to work otherwise you’ll be stuck with a tool that’s #1 in the reviews, but makes you want to pull your hair out.
Let me give you an example. I adore Asana. It just makes sense to me. I’m a linear thinker and to-dos and action items bring out the happy dance in me. I’m always making lists (even for fun things like restaurants to try on our next vacation) which is why Asana works for me. Asana’s dashboard is set up to show my daily to-dos which pull from my various work and home projects. At one glance I can see what I need to do today, what can be done tomorrow, and what’s upcoming. And if crossing off tasks wasn’t incentive enough, Asana even gives me the option to enable a setting that makes a unicorn leap across my screen when I cross off three tasks in a row (seriously, who doesn’t love unicorns?)
Compare that to Trello, another highly rated project management system. I knew many people who swore by Trello so I tried it out. And you know what? It just never clicked with me. It’s beautiful and I understand how it works, but it just isn’t as intuitive to me as Asana and that’s ok. Just because a tool works for someone else doesn’t mean it has to work for you.
Tech Tools Tip #2 – Understand the Problem You’re Trying to Solve
Why are you on the market for a new tool? What specific problem are you trying to solve? You have to get specific at this point or you’ll end up wasting a lot of time test driving tools that don’t actually do what you want them to.
So before you begin Googling “best project management system”, take a few minutes to jot down your bare bones requirements. Here are a few questions to get you started:
- What are the three “gotta haves” the tool has to be able to do or it’s not worth considering?
- Does the tool need to integrate with any other tech? If so, which ones?
- Where will you use this tool (ie. on your computer, phone, tablet, all of the above)?
- What’s your budget? Are you strictly looking for a free resource or are you willing to spend a little if it truly solves the problem?
Tech Tools Tip #3 – Get Recommendations
Now that you have a pretty good idea of what you’re looking for, it’s time to start looking for options. I wasn’t joking when I mentioned Google before. I usually begin my research with a simple Google search and what I’m specifically looking for is articles with reviews. Depending on what type of tech tool you’re looking for, CNet and PC Magazine can be good starting places. As too are groups in whatever category or industry you’re researching. For instance, when setting up my website, I visited entrepreneur and consulting groups on Facebook and LinkedIn for advice on tech solutions.
Next ask around to colleagues, friends, even the lady in the checkout line, to see if they’ve used “XYZ” tool before or if they’ve “heard of a good resource for [fill in the blank]”. You’d be amazed how many options come up just by asking. And double bonus, if you start hearing the same tool mentioned over and over. That’s a great indication that it’s definitely one to put at the top of your list.
Tech Tools Tip #4 – Give it Two Weeks
So here you are in the home stretch. You’ve done your due diligence and have 3-4 options to try. Now comes the fun part, it’s time to take them for a test drive. But how long should you give a new tech tool before kicking it to the curb? Great question.
I’ve tried out many tools in the past and have found that it usually takes me about two weeks to figure out if a tool is really “the one” for me. The first week is spent figuring out how the heck it works (HINT – Use YouTube for video tutorials. They are often better and more to the point than the company documentation). Then by week two, the groundwork is laid and I can actually start to get a feel for how the tool will incorporate into my daily life (circling back to the idea of finding a tool that fits in with how you already work).
Here’s the kicker though, if after two weeks of consistent use, the problem you were hoping to solve is still a problem and if using the tool feels like an uphill battle, it’s time to move onto the next option. With so many new resources coming on the market almost daily, it’s not worth wasting time on a tool that just isn’t a good fit.
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