Get Along with Your Computer

Ready to start “getting” – and getting along with – your computer? It’s much easier than you thought.

This guide offers 10 items to get you enjoying that infernal machine on your lap or your desk. But the below is not detailed how-to instructions, telling you what to type or where to click. This guide is not a thick users’ manual. Far from it.

The 10 items below aim to do something really important, something that often gets overlooked before beginners are bombarded with specific directions about clicking and saving and typing. These 10 items paint the “big picture” of what using (and getting along with) your computer is all about.

Specifically, these items aim to 1) Reset how you think about computers; 2) Give you a smart way to approach doing things; 3) Set you on the path to improving your skill and ease; and 4) Remind you to enjoy it all.

I’ve divided the 10 items into Three Keys, Three Steps, Three Ideas, and One Rule. (That’s right, just one firm rule – and it’s “Have fun”!) Each item gets its own page. Read them at your own pace; they’re short and easy. Here’s a one-page overview, with links to the individual pages:

Three Keys to Get Ready

First, the past – specifically, letting go of it. Drop some of the common thinking that makes computers confusing, and start with a fresh understanding of what “learning computers” is all about.

1. Don’t “think like a computer”. Think like a human!

Getting along with your computer is not about understanding chips and circuits. It’s about understanding the human intentions and decisions of the people who make the machines and software.

2. Don’t use “the computer”. Use applications!

This is the single biggest roadblock I see holding back people who don’t “get” computers. Don’t think in terms of “the computer”; instead, think in terms of applications (also called programs). That change makes all the difference in the world.

3. Don’t try to “know everything”. Know how to find out.

This should come as a welcome guideline to many struggling users: You don’t need to know nearly as much as you may have imagined. As Einstein famously suggested, don’t fill your head with facts; just know how to find things out.

Three Steps for Doing Everything

After the past comes the present. The steps below are closely tied to thinking in terms of applications, not in terms of “the computer”, and aim to give you a clear path to getting things done.

4. Know what you want to do

This step is simple enough, but couldn’t be more important.

5. Know what applications you need for the job

Here’s where thinking in terms of applications, not “the computer”, comes to the fore.

6. Know how to use your applications

This step is really the core of “how to use a computer”.

Three Pointers to Keep on Going

Finally, the future. These simple steps will keep you charging ahead and doing amazing things.

7. Learn one new thing every day

Or more, if you like. But even one discovery a day means hundreds every year!

8. Ask questions

Never stop asking! Remember, there are no dumb questions.

9. Share what you’ve learned

If there’s one better way to learn than by asking questions, it’s by teaching what you already know.

One Rule to Rule Them All

10. Have fun!

Once you ditch the struggling and start getting along with your computer, it’s hard not to have fun with a tool does almost anything!

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