Since it’s 2014 and you’re reading this on a digital device, I’m assuming you are aware that technology can help keep your work and personal life organized. Occasionally, however, technology can be a problem and prevent you from getting to your organizational tools and resources. When you find yourself in need of tech support and turn to a friend, relative, or technology professional, you’ll be more successful at getting your problem solved (and solved more quickly) if you first do some planning.
The following information is extremely helpful if you can gather it together before requesting tech support. The more you have, the better.
- Write out problem in detail. What exactly were you doing when the problem occurred? Composing an email? Visiting a web site? Updating a piece of software? Which one? Be as specific as you can.
- Learn to take a screenshot. Often times, problems are accompanied by error messages, which can be cryptic and hard to recall. Getting a screenshot is a great way to preserve the message itself. Here’s how to grab a screenshot: On a Mac, hold down the Shift key, the Command key and the 3 key simultaneously. On a Windows PC, just press the Print Screen key. Windows 7 and above have a program called Snipping Tool that will grab a screenshot for you. Just click Start and begin typing “Snipping Tool.” It’s got options for full screen, the active selection and the active window. If you aren’t comfortable taking a screen shot, write down the error message you received.
- Have any relevant passwords, user names or login information on hand. Often times, work cannot continue until this information has been retrieved. To this end, I recommend a piece of software called 1Password. Its job is to create, store, and remember secure passwords for you. It’s fantastic. If you prefer to go old school, get a paper notebook specifically for this purpose. Be sure to keep it in a secure place and do not lose it.
- Identify what system and version you are using. Are you on Windows 7 or Mavericks? What hardware and what is the make and model? It’s possible that an issue that exists in version x.0 was corrected in version x.1.
- Can you reproduce the error? This is typically the first step a tech support person will do: try to re-create the trouble you experienced. If you can make it happen reliably and consistently, note the steps that trigger the problem.
- What have you already done, if anything, to troubleshoot this issue? You could save a lot of time by listing anything you’ve already tried.
Once the work has begun, consider:
- Making notes of what IT support says. It may save you a headache in the future.
- Keeping an open mind. The answer you receive might not be what you were wishing for or expecting. Try not to be discouraged.
Of course, you might be able to find the answer yourself. Don’t underestimate the power of a good online search or simply turning your device off and turning it back on.