Guest Blog Post: Marty Bhatia - Becoming a Digital Ninja
Today we have an opportunity to gain some knowledge and helpful tips on how to manage something we all love and hate: technology. Our guest blogger today is Marty Bhatia of Digital Ninja Consulting.
Marty Bhatia is the founder and owner of Digital Ninja Consulting. Digital Ninja is a certified Google Partner that helps small to mid-sized organizations migrate to Google's G Suite platform. Digital Ninja helps organizations run smoothly on the G Suite platform by providing white glove style services for support, training, security and more. The name Digital Ninja means power user, and Marty's mission is to help the world at large become better users. Digital Ninja is approaching it's 8th year and over 2000 users. Marty speaks professionally time to time on the topic of Getting Beyond Default to help people engage technical learning curves that will help them do more with less effort. Marty's mantra is to clear the noise and get to what matters most in your life.
Become a Digital Ninja by Living Beyond Default
You are the best productivity weapon you have in your digital arsenal. But, there is no quick fix tool out there that will instantly give you ninja like digital skills. You must embrace technical learning curves and become a competent user of your daily tech to avoid becoming functionally obsolete. I call this getting beyond default.
Now, you may have once been eager to dig into that new piece of tech, or you could have always had a bid of trepidation of the unknown. Either way, by 2018 everyone is facing digital fatigue.
But don’t worry, it’s actually much easier than you think to recover from this fatigue and embrace learning tech. I’m going to share 3 ways to get you beyond default in this quick post.
To prime you, please note: a Digital Ninja is simply an online colloquialism that means you use tech really well. You don’t have to be a programmer or be able to spec out a network. It’s about being generally competent in using the daily tech that you are bombarded with. And, even more, it’s about what tech you choose not to use. With a clear understanding of what tools to leverage and general competency you’ll be more confident and valuable.
Lesson 1: Reduce the noise
Trying to gain focus in this digital age is an ever increasing incredible challenge. It all starts with reducing the noise.
A common mistake that most run into when taking on their digital lives is they feel the need to add a tool or application or something that will “help” them do more with less effort a.k.a. be more productive.
The opposite is actually more impactful. If you accept that you have never been more bombarded with notifications, emails, texts, likes, comments, pokes, trolls, ads, etc..., then you may want to consider that the noise is causing unnecessary disruptions. Reducing the noise first will give you more personal bandwidth to prioritize more important ways to use your time and energy.
Easy ways to reduce noise:
- Learn and use the Do Not Disturb feature on your phone, and consider leaving it on all the time. Many new phones allow you to select people that the Do Not Disturb does not affect so they still get through.
Take the time to turn off notifications from social channels and apps like Spotify that send you unnecessary updates about new artists. You’ll be suprised by the sound of the silence when you do this for all the things interrupting you.
Unsubscribe from all those things you never really signed up for...that’s actually called grey mail. Use Unroll.me for a bulk way to take care of your whole inbox.
Once you experience this for 30 days you’ll never go back. In fact, observe yourself closely. You’ll look at your phone many times a day as a habit even without notifications hitting you. The bottom line is choose where you put your attention, don’t abdicate that to your tech.
Lesson 2: Focus Grasshopper
Now that you have reduced the noise and given yourself a breath or two you can regain some focus. Where you start matters. What you want is to identify a keystone focus or habit. A keystone habit is a lead habit that cascades into other habits.
Why a habit? Because, managing your digital life requires maintenance. Maintenance is made easy via turning the task into a habit. Building strong digital habits and burning techniques into muscle memory is what makes a talented Digital Ninja.
There is a lot to learn in the world of tech. Picking one or two parts of tech to focus on will help you gain momentum.
Here are some places to start:
Master your browser. The fact is that most of our computing is done on the web. And, most of you use Chrome. Chrome has a ton of great features, but if you never dig in beyond the default settings, you are likely missing out on some really great productive boosts. Start with shortcut keys.
Master your smartphone memory. Your phone is slow because you don’t manage what’s consuming memory. There are crappy apps you’ve installed running in the background, your photos are still only on the phone eating memory and running the risk of loss, etc... Start with Google Photos, and master managing the number one memory hog...your photos.
Master how to leverage Google Assistant and more advanced searches. Your phone can help you boost productivity with voice to text, voice search, AI assistants (Google Assistant & Siri). As a bonus also learn how to leverage IFTTT with a Google Assistant.
Pick one of the above, but not more than one at a time. It’s easy to find help, it’s hard to get started. Put a little time on the calendar to simply watch videos on Google Chrome. I fixed a Chromebook camera watching an awesome YouTube video produced by a twelve year old.
The key reason I have found people don’t put time into learning their new devices is that they’ve simply burned out of all the failed attempts to be more productive. They spend time, money, and energy and they feel like they’ve become a slave to their tech. Overcoming that is simply knowing where to focus and putting in the time.
Lesson 3: Use Productivity Hacks
Don’t reinvent the wheel. Being more productive simply means more output for the same or less effort. It’s not a new concept. The trick is to know what productivity techniques you should use and when.
Here are some general use productivity hacks:
The Pomodoro Technique: This system is so simple and effective it works almost every time. Think about the last time you were stuck. How long did you avoid a project because you were stuck in the ‘thinking about it’ stage? This is called paralysis by analysis. You may have hesitated to start because you didn‘t know where to start. This is why I like the Pomodoro Technique. You simply take out a time (phone, kitchen timer, sundial, really anything), and you put 25 mins into that idea. And, make the task really, really, really small. For instance, work on a draft of the title of the project. When you make the task small, and you give yourself 25 mins of focused time to work on it, you‘ll inevitably do much more than draft a title. You may draft dozens of potential titles, or you may find the title and move on. I feel this works because it changes the goal from completion of something, to simply spending 25 mins on that something. The pressure of figuring out the WHOLE idea is taken away -- you just do what you can in 25 minutes!
Batching: If you don’t know the concept of multitasking has been proven as uneffective. Grouping your tasks in batches is the key. This is especially true with computing. Do you click away one item at time simply because you haven’t learned how to use advanced search with filters? This is a sign that you have a lot of really easy learning curves that you could take on, and that could change your productivity significantly. Think about trying to use a screwdriver when a drill is available and all you have to do is read the instructions and practice.
Staying Charged: Simply ask yourself how much time is lost hunting for power when your device is about to die. Think about it when someone important or something important requires your device and you are about to run out of charge. There is a lot of unnecessary and avoidable anxiety there. Simply get more chargers, put them in strategic places, and buy a backup battery. Consider having a dedicated charging station at your home or office. By a charging tower to handle the mess of cords and to reduce the number of outlets you need.
The future is progressing rapidly. Staying focused on meta skills are the key to avoiding getting lost in the noise. Learn to communicate in the right etiquette in email, chat, etc... Learn how to manage memory on devices. Learn basic troubleshooting skills e.g. turning it off and on, clearing the cache, doing a power reset on a device, etc...
Putting some quality focused effort into your digital habits will help you achieve digital ninja skills. You’ll have more flow, more powerful productivity, and be less of a servant to your tech. Instead, your tech can actually serve you.
Are you ready to start your journey to become a Digital Ninja?