Are You Making Optimal Use of Your Software?

Get more productive by ramping up your software skill set

Image: ©

Software is everywhere. We carry it with us on our smartphones and tablets. It’s on our laptop and desktop computers. We wear it on our wrists. It’s in our cameras and cars. Increasingly it’s even in our kitchen and laundry appliances.

Much of the software that we use every day works in the background without much input from us.

But other software applications that we regularly use are complex and have a range of options and functionality that we might not even be aware of.

Often, we’ll jump right in and start using new software immediately after we install it, learning as we go to the best of our ability. And, that’s fine! We’ll quickly get the basics. But, we probably won’t be using the software in the most efficient or optimal way.

Software allows us to achieve complex tasks more efficiently and effectively. We can create and manipulate images, videos and presentations. We can write, edit, format, and publish virtually any sort of document. We can build professional websites. We can store and manipulate data and display it in countless ways. And much more.

But, if you learned how to use a complex software application as you went, you are likely missing out on a lot of the software’s functionality.

I know this from my own experience.

I use the WordPress platform to create and publish websites, but some years after I started, I got more serious about web development and completed a WordPress essential training course. Sure, I already knew a lot of the material. But, I was surprised at how many shortcuts and interface tweaks that I learned along the way.

I also gained a much deeper insight into the underlying nuts and bolts of the platform and this core knowledge has helped me extend the functionality of sites I build with WordPress in various ways.

I’ve now incorporated these into my WordPress workflow, and it has significantly increased my productivity.

And, right now, I’m doing a comprehensive Adobe Photoshop course. Again, even though I’ve used Photoshop for years to prepare images for web articles and process my photographs, I’ve already learned a lot of new ways to achieve tasks and get things done faster. I’m also starting to understand how Photoshop masters use the software to create such magical images, and this is firing my imagination.

You might already know how to use your spreadsheet application to record data and do basic number crunching. But, dig down into formulas and formatting, and you can make your bland data sheets do amazing things that save you time and help you professionally present your information.

Sure, you could take an ad hoc approach and learn just the formula or process that you needed on the day. But, take the time to do a course on spreadsheet fundamentals, and you’ll come away with the underlying knowledge that you need to achieve great results in much less time.

So, it’s worth learning how to get the best out of the software you use every day. You’ll most likely see a return on this time outlay as you increase the efficiency of your workflows.

I’ve found the best way to learn software is to do professionally presented video-based courses. Video is perfect for teaching software because you can see exactly what the tutor is doing and follow along.

But, if you prefer to learn via written tutorials rather than video, there are plenty available on Amazon, your local bookstore, or even your library.

When you do a course, it’s worthwhile starting from the basics even if you use the software all the time. Often, it is among these basics, which you might think that you know pretty well already, that you pick up a lot of time-saving tweaks and tips.

There are professional courses available for just about any software you can think of. Do an online search, and you’ll find a host of high-quality software course providers.

When choosing a course, opt for one that is professionally presented, comprehensive, and is provided by a verifiable expert in the field. Do some research and read some reviews. Often, the provider will offer a free trial or some free content so that you can test the waters and see if it’s a good fit.

Full access to excellent quality courses usually requires a fee, but it’s worth the price for what you get.

These courses will likely pay for themselves because you’ll get more done in less time.

And, if the budget is tight, there are plenty of good software tutorials on YouTube and elsewhere that are available for free.

So, again, even if you’ve been using an application for years, it’s worth taking the time to ensure that you are using the software as efficiently as you can.

Sign up for a course and see how you go. You might be quite surprised at how much you get out of it.