You ought to be using Google (or Bing, or Yahoo, or whatever you prefer) just about every day to answer all kinds of questions. In fact, you’d be amazed how many problems you can solve yourself just by typing them into a search engine.
Trying to address your issues on your own first is a huge boost to your self-confidence and to overall productivity.
We all feel good when we solve problems on our own. That part is pretty easy to understand.
But how does using Google (instead of asking for help) increase productivity?
The reason is because of a psychological phenomenon called flow. That refers to the experience of being “in the zone.” You’ve probably had this happen to you recently: you’re working hard on a complicated task (like writing or reading a document, building or analyzing something, etc) and you are making good progress. Then, someone or something interrupts you and breaks your concentration.
Just like that, you are out of “flow.” You have to start all over to begin concentrating again.
When you decide to use Google to find the answer instead of bugging a colleague, you prevent them from getting knocked out of the zone. So here are some things you should definitely try Googling before asking someone else:
- Simple technical issues with your computer (try putting error messages into Google word-for-word)
- Opening and closing hours of businesses
- Weather and traffic conditions
- How to spell words, and examples of grammar
- Directions to get somewhere
- Strange phone numbers that appear in caller ID
- Words that are unfamiliar to you and you don’t know the definition
- Claims that seem unlikely or far fetched (such as urban legends.)
- Measurement and unit conversions
- Historical facts, recent sports scores and celebrity details
That’s not to say you should become a hermit and never ask other people for help. But if you can find out on Google (and you are already in front of a computer), consider helping yourself.
And if you’re the one being asked for help, you can always respond with a link to LMGTFY. (Wondering what that is? Try it for yourself.)