We all know this feeling: we buy a new piece of equipment, say a printer, or a phone or a camera, open the box and find a manual that is the size of "War and Peace" and our heart sinks. Let's be honest, who is ever going to read that? Certainly not me. So what do we next?

Typically, we bumble our way through the set up, use the bare number of settings and switches to make the primary function work and hope for the best. If it's a printer, we do our best to make bits of paper come out the end with words on them. If we can make that happen, we are generally happy.

But in reality, we are wasting an enormous amount of possible technology and time. We have this incredible piece of equipment that is capable of far more than just printing a piece of paper, yet we never use it to its full potential simply because we don't know how.

I did a project for Hewlett Packard a while back and came across a report that said less than ten percent of businesses use their technology to the full capacity. What a waste? How many man-hours are lost by under utilization of technology?

The problem of course is that most instruction books are written to confuse us and drive us just a little insane. What is "easy" for some is infuriating for others. So to overcome this issue, whenever I buy a new piece of equipment I pay for an hour of "an experts" time to show me how to actually use the equipment to its full capability.

I try and do this with every piece of equipment, every new bit of software and even an app that I buy. Now there are lots of reasons to do this, apart from removing all of the frustration that sees many of wanting to throw our new printer out the window because it just won't do what we want it to do.

The biggest benefit is that by spending a little money and a little time, I get to save a lot of time and by association money. By learning to use the equipment or software I purchase to its full capacity, there is generally a major productivity benefit. After all, most technology is designed to save us time but that only works if you know how to use it.

My advice is simple, pay someone to come to your business and teach you how to use every single piece of equipment, learn every feature, get them to show you what to do when the little red light flashes, how to turn it on and off, where to put the plugs, where to go online and get more information or other resources.

Generally if you do a social media shout out, someone will be able to help you with anything you need to learn. Your time is valuable, invest a little to save a lot.

Published on: Sep 6, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.