Read Instruction Manuals

There’s a reason that companies will go through the effort to create instruction manuals. They often contain information that will genuinely help you make the most of your new product or service (and tell you useful information like the location of the resource menu in Excel).

excel resource menu

Oh, that's where I find the resource menu....

I know, I know, reading manuals is pretty boring. You want to start using the product right away, but 10-20 minutes of time invested up front can save you a lot of time later when you know where to find that hidden menu item. I’m not saying that you have to become an expert on your product immediately, but it’s well worth the time to learn some of the basic features of the product you’re using to make the most out of it ASAP.

I just got an iPhone about 2 months ago and looked up some articles on user tips and tricks to doing basic tasks. For example, double-tapping the space bar while typing adds a period and a space. On the surface, this may seem a trivial change in behavior, but over time, I have saved time sending texts and can watch more YouTube videos be productive in other ways as a result.

Here’s my challenge to you: the next time you have the opportunity to read an instruction manual, just give it a once-over for no more than 20 minutes and see if you glean anything useful. My bet is that if the product is sufficiently complicated, you’ll be able to make use of some of the advice in there.

If you’re still instruction-manual-adverse, just look at the “Getting Started” guide. Usually these watered-down guides include some helpful tips for using/setting up the product that you cannot always figure out on your own.

At bare minimum, you’ll figure out what that weird red button on the side does.

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Additional Links

ImToo: 59 iPhone Tips & Tricks (good comprehensive list)

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Are instruction manuals useful to you, or do you just skip them until you need them? Let me know in the comments.

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