Technical Skills and Learning Effectively

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Chances are if you’re 30 or under, you’ve been the “go-to ” person in your organization for all things technology. A common stereotype is that younger employees are technologically versed, but where, and when, do they learn these technical skills?

Regardless of your age, if you are interested in learning how to use new programs and tools, this is the blog for you.

Throughout my high school and college career, I’ve taken 2-3 total classes teaching technical skills and software programs. That isn’t much!

Transitioning to the work world made me realize that there’s a lot I need to learn. School and work are entirely different in their expectations and responsibilities. As such, when I arrived at Ember IT, I needed to learn entirely new programs in addition to the advanced capabilities of old ones.

As a part of my training week at Ember IT, I learned how to use tools such as Microsoft Teams, Hootsuite, Grammarly, Canva, and more. These were all programs I never had exposure to during my education!

During my training week, I found three reoccurring themes that helped me learn lots of information very quickly.

 

Learn with Purpose

New technology can be intimidating. How many people do you know that are perfectly fine with their older phones? Often, new technology doesn’t catch on right away because people are “fine” with older technology that “gets the job done.”

To be clear, I’m not trying to convince you to go out and pay top dollar for every new piece of technology. However, I am here to tell you that investing time to learn the functions and capabilities of new tools and technology is worth the time investment.

If you can overcome the intimidation of tackling a new piece of technology or tool, you’ll not only be better for it but also, in all likelihood, find ways to make your life more efficient.

What I found essential when it comes to learning a new technological tool is you have to learn with purpose. For example, if you have to learn Microsoft Excel to create detailed data reports for work, don’t try to master Excel in one sitting!

I recommend creating a list of goals when learning a new program and trying to stick to it. That way, you don’t forget your “why” when you get frustrated and can continuously remind yourself of your purpose for learning.

When learning a new tool, emphasizing the purpose of learning helps deter any feelings of anxiety towards hitting deadlines or emotions of being overwhelmed at the vast capabilities of different programs.

 

Get hands-on

Everyone learns differently. Between visual, auditory, and kinetic learners, it can be challenging to create a “one size fits all” learning style when approaching a topic.

My biggest learning technology suggestion is to get hands-on with the tool while you’re learning. In fact, before going out and finding a guide on how to use it, see what you can figure out about the tool on your own.

My recommendation for tackling a new product is first to make a list of questions you’ve come up with after you’ve gotten hands-on with the tool.

Next, search for specific guides that help to the questions you came up with after getting hands-on (Purpose!).

Finally, after absorbing the information in whichever guide you decide, apply that information in a hands-on manner to see if you have truly mastered the skills you needed to.

(Note: This assumes you have access to the technology/program without having to make a payment first).

 

Master one new skill per day

If you’re overambitious like me, you might try to sit down and learn an entire program in one sitting. I cannot stress enough; do not try to speed through the learning process.

Pacing can be a big issue when it comes to learning broad new topics, especially topics like new technological tools. A best practice that I’ve found is learning is like working out, you’ve got to pace yourself.

You aren’t going to get in shape for that 5k run overnight, so don’t feel stressed if you can’t retain every piece of information on a tool in one sitting.

You’ll have great days where you’re mentally focused and able to navigate your way through loads of information, and you’ll have days where you’re mentally exhausted and can barely concentrate.

To ensure productivity without stress, I recommend trying to master one new skill per day. For the sake of keeping the information fresh and building on what you’ve learned, committing to a consistent pace is far more efficient than burning yourself out with one long sprint.

This week’s takeaway is that when it comes to learning, most things aren’t complicated, there’s just information you aren’t familiar with yet.