digital toolbox

 

Technology moves fast—really fast! Not that long ago, we had one desktop computer that never really changed much. It was easy to get comfortable with the routine software and procedures and just cruise by on auto-pilot.

However, those days are long gone as we now have this fantastic world of mobile devices and cloud services that give us amazing tools to take our productivity to places we only dreamed of just a few years ago. But as with any new thing, the tendency is to start off with shaky knees at first. The main reason? Lack of knowledge and understanding.

Here’s how to avoid being overwhelmed in today’s digital world:

Take the plunge.
If you haven’t done so already, you have probably been thinking about making your computing more modern, mobile, and efficient. There are some key ways to do this. For instance, the iPad has allowed millions of professionals to break the tether to their big desktop computer or even comparatively clunky laptop. With hundreds of thousands of apps available and a small lightweight device like this packed with productivity tools, you can literally go anywhere. Tasks such as signing documents, annotating PDFs, connecting to cloud services, and planning for trial in general couldn’t be easier.

Cloud services, to be blunt, are generally fantastic. There are tools, services, and utilities available for a relatively low cost to give you incredible suites of productivity and integration. Plus, it’s so great to always have all of your data available, on any of your devices, any time that you need it. What’s more: Your trusted cloud service provider is handling critically important issues such as hosting, security, and backups for you so you no longer need to worry if your office server crashes or someone deletes a file. In fact, such services assure such high levels of security and reliability that it makes the conventional server in an office look a little anemic.

Stick with familiarity.
As the old saying goes, there is more than one way to shine a penny. And so it goes with apps. You could spend days browsing through the App Store comparing an endless number of word processing or note taking apps. The same is true for cloud services. So how do you decide? Stick with proven products from tried-and-true developers. Like anything else, there are the smaller developers that may actually have a nice product, but you have to consider how long they have been around and think about what happens if they disappear and your app now becomes obsolete. How frustrating would it be if you invested a year or more in creating files for a tool that is now obsolete!

Some examples of such established tech: Productivity tools such as Office365 are nearly impossible to beat. Microsoft is THE staple in the business world, and their iPad and iPhone versions are beautiful and intuitive to use. Syncing via OneDrive is effortless and with the recent Office 365 integration with Rocket Matter, the experience is seamless.

Cloud storage is another crowded space with some great options. Dropbox has been around for years and is well-integrated with third party apps and services, but others such as OneDrive, Box and Google Drive are also quite popular. All work well with mobile devices and offer tons of storage space for your files.

Practice management via Rocket Matter ties it all together between your desktop and mobile device so you are never out of the loop. You’ll always have access to what you need immediately, and you’ll never waste time.

Learn one new thing every day.
Chances are, there are things you would like to know better about your devices, apps, or services but you just stay confined to using the few things you know how to do. So how do you break out of this rut? Set aside ten minutes per day to learn one new thing about an app or service you use. Doing this each day does wonders for your tech-brain-workout and before you know it, you are mastering these things and accomplishing tasks you hadn’t thought of before.

Here’s how to do this: Just try it for a week. Pick a quiet time of day, maybe early in the morning or after work and book it on your calendar. Set it to repeat for 7 days and just start with ten minutes. Pick one app or service such as Word, OneNote, or Rocket Matter and spend the time focusing on one element or function that you are interested in. That’s it—ten minutes, one item, no big deal. At the end of the week, you will have spent about an hour learning about this one thing, and I’ll bet you’ll be more confident and ready to take advantage of what you’ve learned. But don’t stop there! Repeat with a new topic the next week and watch your skills grow.

Terry Jarrell is an Apple consultant, Rocket Matter Certified Expert, and instructor based in Florida. Terry has been supporting legal professionals for more than a decade, and he also provides Florida Bar accredited CLE instruction and personalized technical services.