Today we encounter technology in nearly every aspect of life, including the formerly low-tech activities of grocery shopping and filling your car’s tank with fuel. And even though technology is supposed to make our lives easier, sometimes it seems like a great deal of patience is required to get the most out of electronics. Every time a desktop computer freezes, or the automated car wash machine won’t accept dollar bills, a feeling of intense frustration and helplessness can suddenly turn a good day into a bad one.

For many people, the presence of technology is nowhere more keenly felt than in the workplace. It is not at all uncommon to spend an entire day in front of one or more computer monitors while connected to desk and mobile phones, videoconferencing equipment, and presentation technology. This is true not just for those with office jobs, but also medical practitioners, educators, and just about anyone else who earns a paycheck in this day and age.

Seeing as how the rewards and detriments of interaction with technology are now a major part of everyday life, studies are being conducted on just how this change affects us. A 2004 report on “User Frustration with Technology in the Workplace” states that “Research on computer anxiety, attitudes, and frustration has shown that a disturbing portion of computer users suffer from negative affective reactions towards the computer, which can subsequently affect whether or not they use the computer, and whether or not they use the computer effectively.”

Furthermore, “In some cases, user frustration with technology can even lead to increased blood volume pressure and muscle tension.”

That particular study wasn’t all doom and gloom, however. It did find that, “There is a measurable benefit to improved usability of user interfaces for lower user frustration.” So, in short, a better designed technology interface, whether in computing or in audiovisual equipment, can reduce a lot of stress in the workplace.

But what happens when technology breaks? From a sociological standpoint, CNET reported in 2008 that, “When faced with a technology breakdown, levels of optimism and frustration vary depending on age and gender.” That might be something for technology service providers to take into account when troubleshooting clients’ systems.

Paradoxically, the source of this frustration may stem from our high expectations for technology — it usually does exactly what it’s supposed to, and thus when it fails, we are completely flabbergasted. Last month, The New York Times columnist Randall Stross tackled the subject of technology robustness, speculating that the high rate of reliability in landline phone service decades ago set the standard for extraordinarily high reliability of service. Phone companies engineered their systems to be functional 99.999% of the time, which is pretty stellar performance.

Today, in order to meet the expectations of a public spoiled by such high margins of functionality, technology companies and web service providers must put their systems to vigorous tests on a regular basis. In short, they prepare for the worst every day, intentionally breaking their own systems in order to guarantee that the technology will be able to survive a real problem.

So what does the average technology user need to do in order to protect themselves from trouble with tech? Well, we need to learn from our mistakes. As one technology blogger from the educational arena put it, “The more we fail with technology, the more we will learn from it.”

But there’s no need to go about this alone. There are companies that conduct technology service and maintenance every single day, and their personnel gather a great amount of intelligence on how to solve problems — one might say they’ve learned a lot from technology’s failings, and from its capability to be very reliable.

So if you don’t want to shoulder the burden of learning from mistakes yourself, it might be a good idea to create a service and maintenance plan for your technological systems. After all, downtime at an inopportune moment can cost far more than a service and maintenance plan. Some might say it could also cost you your health and sanity. But in actuality, there is much to be gained from even one service visit conducted by a professional. It’s never too late to get started in this crucial step in preventative maintenance. Don’t get frustrated, instead, get prepared.