Tips and Tricks for Learning New Software
Learning new software has become an ever important part of the working world. Whether transitioning into a new position or working to keep up with the ones we already have, there is always some new technology to integrate into the daily routine. Learning new software, like learning new languages, is a skill, and there are tips and tricks we can put to use to make that process easier and more effective.
- As with any undertaking, starting with what we know can be a real advantage. The design of a lot of software is informed by that of other software, like Word, Gmail, or Paint. Look for similarities in naming conventions, iconography, and layout.
- Next, find something that you know how to do and do it a lot. Confidence and comfort are important attitudes that allow our minds to navigate complex processes, such as learning. Let yourself get used to the interface and build confidence while accomplishing simple tasks.
- When in doubt, find the instructions and give them a quick once over. Read more thoroughly over instructions for tasks that you know you will be using but just skim instructions for things you are not sure will come in handy. When you do this, don’t expect to remember everything at once, or maybe ever. The idea is to help you get familiar with what the software is capable of, how it is structured, and what kind of language it uses.
- Try to translate the information into a language you already understand. Using different ways of thinking to process what we are learning is one of those skills we learned in grade school when we had to write sentences, recite definitions, and match synonyms to learn our spelling and vocabulary. Learning software can work the same way. Consider taking notes, even when you will never look at them again, or drawing maps that locate different windows within the interface. When all else fails, talk to yourself about what you are learning.
- Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, keep it simple. Many programs give you several ways to accomplish the same task. While this is considered to be a highlight of many, more advanced softwares, it can be confusing when just beginning. When you figure out a way to do something, stick with doing it that way. This is eventually something that you will phase out as you become more familiar with all of the menus and toolbars, but in the beginning, while understanding that multiple options exist, don’t be afraid to flat out ignore them.
Learning new things can be frustrating, and for those of us who did not grow up in a world saturated with technology, the digital interface can feel unfriendly and challenging. Nonetheless, there are things we have done forever that can inform our journey and make this process just a little bit easier.