Tech Learning Tips

Glass heart

Do you love the tech tools you use? Or do you have a love/hate relationship with all things tech?

Sure… you’ve heard that writing and editing tools can improve your productivity, but it’s so easy to become overwhelmed with a digital tool that’s unfamiliar to you.

Instead of breaking up with your tool (and going back to the devil you know), here are my tips for learning to love your tech:

  1. Learn one feature per week.
  2. Track your progress.
  3. Lower your expectations.

Learn One Feature Per Week

I use Microsoft Word 2010 for a variety of writing, editing, and publishing tasks. It’s a powerful piece of software with hundreds of features. Instead of stressing about what I don’t know, I try and work in opportunities to learn new features that might help me in my work.

For example, I’ve set a goal to watch and apply one or two word tips per week, from the Word 2010 Power Shortcuts video series on It won’t make me a Word maven overnight, but over time I’ll begin to internalize Word’s powers. I take a similar approach with all of the digital tools I use.

Track Your Progress

It’s easy to forget how to do something in a piece of software you’re learning. When you get stuck (again), you’ll need to figure out how to do that something (again). To save time, look things up once, and track your progress on a spreadsheet, as I have here.

Notice how I’ve included help links in my spreadsheet, so I know where I can find a detailed answer if my notes aren’t explicit enough. Review your spreadsheet often, and you’ll internalize those tech moves in no time. (You’re welcome to copy my spreadsheet if you think it’ll help you.)

I also use my spreadsheet to catalogue what I’ve learned about writing tools as I’m solving day-to-day writing and editing problems. I like that it will allow me to sort the information by software type.

Lower Your Expectations

You don’t need to understand everything about a tool in order to use it. If that were the case, I wouldn’t be using any of the tools I write about on Tech Tools for Writers. I don’t know everything about each tool, but I know something, and I plan to learn more.

If you assume a posture of learning with the tools you’re getting to know, you’ll come closer to creating a suite of writing, editing, and publishing tools that work for you.

How do you learn a new tool?

What tool(s) are you using for writing, editing, and publishing? Fill out this one-minute poll to let me know!