Know Your Software to Make the Most of Your Time
Almost all applications hold secrets, from simple tools that sleekly cram hidden abilities, to giant, bloatware suites that shovel in a new pile of features every year. How can you keep up with your software? Online, video-training resource, Lynda.com, hosts hundreds of lessons on hundreds of programs. The nominal amount you'll spend there could pay you back in improved productivity, as your workers become proficient at all of their applications.
While Lynda.com even includes operating system basics to help with Windows and OS X, I like the range and depth of lessons that are based on software programs. Nearly every application that I use is represented; check the list to see if yours are covered. Even Twitter and other trending software is included.
Lessons often total one to many hours of video for each program, broken into several-minute chunks. You can follow along with your own version of the program and Lynda.com's tutorial files. Some of the introductory clips seemed too simple (for me), but this chapter-driven approach lets you jump to tips that match your abilities.
Beyond those tutorial videos, Lynda.com also includes interviews and profiles with professionals who use these applications. They're supposed to inspire your projects, especially with creative software, but I just enjoyed their interesting stories.
Access to these hundreds of lessons costs $25/month per user and gets cheaper when you buy a large chunk of time in advance or sign up multiple users. For example, with five or more accounts, you begin to save over that base fee. The cost includes access to all lessons, so you could branch out to other applications after tackling the ones you use most often. Lynda.com also sells books and tutorial DVDs for offline viewing that cost extra.
If you or your employees are just muddling through Office, QuickBooks, Filemaker, Photoshop, or any other application, you're wasting potential productivity. Invest just a few hours, learning your applications with video tutorials, and your business could get a boost in its efficiency.
Zack Stern is building a new business from San Francisco, where he frequently contributes to PC World.