You don’t have to know…

Know how to find out

You have to know how to find out.

I had a management class when I was in college. The professor made this point and it has stuck with me all these years. It applies in so many circumstances. You don’t have to know…so liberating! Just know how to find out.

When it comes to software, there is no way anyone is going to learn everything they need to know in any training class, online or in a classroom. I trained thousands over the 18 years I did training and I always stressed this point. I told them they’re not going to remember everything I taught them. However, I always tried to show them how to find out when they were ready for a feature.

The first thing is to become familiar with what features there are. Don’t worry about how to do something, just that it can be done. That’s one of the reasons I suggest scanning the ribbons and menus of programs. Something may not make sense now, but when it’s needed, you have a better chance of knowing it exists. For example, in a scan of the Excel ribbons you may notice Conditional Formatting. It will take a little effort to learn how to do it, but you’ll know it exists.

Then, when you need that feature, you’ll know how to find out how to do it. That means learning how to use the help system. That can be the hardest skill to learn sometimes. And, while I’ve heard plenty of griping about the Microsoft help systems, trust me when I say they are sooooo much better than other programs. The main program we use in our dental practice has a help system that is simply a bunch of screenshots with little or no context. And, if I don’t type the exact word or phrase, I get zero help.

I think I can write about this concept endlessly. It just applies to so much. I’m sure I’ll find more opportunities to wax eloquent. In the meantime, try it on for size. It can be quite liberating.

Tricia Santos

After 18 years of providing computer consulting, training and speaking, I fell into a "real" job (managing a dental specialist practice). So, I gave up my business in 2007. However, I still love learning about computers and sharing what I know. This really is my favorite hobby. Hope you find it useful.

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