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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Computer Basics: How To Get better At Computers Without Learning a Thing

I've been giving people basic computer help for a long time now – over fourteen years as a professional, and for years before that, I was the "computer genius" (their words, not mine) everybody came to when they got stuck.

I've been paying attention to all those people over the years, and I've noticed something; for most people, the biggest problem they have with computers is actually very simple, and it's something they have total control over – their mental attitude.

I consider myself really lucky because I was born at a unique time. I'm just old enough to not only remember the first home computers, but also remember clearly what it was like before anyone had one in their home.

I think I was around ten years old when I first sat down in front of a computer. The first thing I thought was how cool it was, and how much fun I was going to have using it.

I dove right in and started played around with it, just seeing what I could do, and I wasn't intimidated by the fact that I didn't yet understand computer basics.

Back then, I only had a couple of friends with computers (it was still rare in the 80s) – they must have gotten really tired of the way I hogged their computer for hours at a time, every time I came over!

Finally, a few years later, my parents bought me my own computer, and I sat down and taught myself the basics of how to use it.

Now it's really common with people even just a few years older than me to think that they'll never be any good at computers because they didn't grow up with them. They think because they didn't get to learn computer basics as a kid, that it's hopeless.

Even people my age feel that way a lot!

I happened to be lucky enough to go to a junior high school that had two computers (which was a lot at the time!), and was lucky enough to have a couple of friends who owned them too. So I got exposed to them earlier than a lot of people my age.

But think about it: I was I born with some natural talent at computers?

No, of course not.

I didn't know a thing about them back then. And you know what? I made a lot of mistakes when I first learned to use them!

But I learned from those mistakes.

I've thought about this a lot over the years, and really, I think the biggest single advantage I ever had, was that I was able to really imagine all the ways I could have fun using the computer – and because I was just playing around with it, because I was enjoying the process of learning, it made it easy.

I bet there's something in your life you really enjoy a lot. Could be football, basketball, or some other sport; it could be restoring vintage cars, cooking, or collecting stamps.

It could be any of a hundred other things – the number of things people are passionate about is just as many as there are people.

But chances are, there's at least one thing in your life that you get really excited about, and really enjoy. And whatever it is, I bet you know a lot about it, and probably could talk about it for hours.

And I bet you never thought learning about this was something hard or intimidating. And in fact, you probably think it's pretty easy, and fun!

Just imagine for a minute what it'd be like to feel the same way about using a computer.

I know some of you reading this are thinking "yeah, right." But understand, I'm not asking you if you could suddenly find the computer easy. I'm just asking you to just *imagine* what it'd be like if computers were fun and easy for you.

Just pretend.

Because one of the most important things you can learn, that will really help learn computer basics, and even master your computer, is not memorizing technical computer terms like what the difference is between memory and a hard drive or anything else like that.

One of the biggest things you can do to help yourself get better at computers is to simply change the way you feel about them.

And that can be just as easy as using your imagination, and pretending you already find them easy, and that they're fun to use.

Because when you can learn to experience even just a little of what you feel when you're enjoying your favorite hobby, you'll be surprised how much easier it is to skyrocket your computer skills.

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Worth Godwin has been giving people computer help professionally for over a decade and a half, and as a hobby for years before that. In the last few years he has focussed on his easy, plain English approach to help people learn computer basics.

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