December is already here and another year seems to have gone by in a flash. For many, the next few weeks are a crazy mix of final project deadlines, over indulgent festivities and last minute present buying for Christmas day.

Over the years I’ve watched my family and friends unwrap hundreds of gifts and have always found the process highly entertaining. How we react and what we do with these new objects can bring out the best and worst in people.


Often those presents which have a practical use – electronic devices, power tools, sporting equipment – are a perfect metaphor for their personality and you finding yourself saying, ‘I knew that’s what they’d do with it!”

So here are my Top 5 reactions for gift opening. You might even see yourself in a few of them:

  1. ‘If I stare at it long enough, it might start working by itself’
  2. ‘I’ll just watch a YouTube video of someone putting it together’
  3. ‘This looks complicated, I better read the instructions…in the corner…by myself’
  4. ‘Manuals are for amateurs. I’m already an expert, so let’s start her up!’
  5. ‘I’ll definitely-probably-maybe take it out of the box another day’

Anything that looks semi-complicated typically puts us on guard, so it’s natural we go to our default setting. I for one am fairly stubborn and have been known to discard the old manual in favour of a ‘trial-and-error’ approach. The drawback to this is you usually end up only knowing the basic functionality and never discover the full power of a new gadget.

We also can’t ignore how skilled kids are at these processes. Most of the time they’re not only more adept than adults at learning new things, they tend not to over-complicate what’s in front of them!

Which is often what we do in our working life, especially when a new system or process is implemented.

Fortunately, we now have thousands of online tools at our fingertips, helping to simplify tasks, actually make learning enjoyable and free up time for what we’re hired to do. Software developers, app designers, digital innovators – all these folk are dedicated to creating better, more dynamic workplaces.

There will always be challenges and head-in-your-hands moments at work, but unwrapping those new systems needn’t be as hard as it once was.