If you're like me, maybe you unboxed a shiny new technology gadget this month that you were just dying to get your hands on. If you're like most people, you probably figured out how to turn it on and press some buttons, but your understanding hasn't progressed very far past that.

This year, I have some counter intuitive advice for you:

Throw out the instructions

These days, most gadgets skimp on the physical instructions in favor of online help. I've found that a lot of gadgets ship with an abridged set of instructions that don't really do justice.

This is especially notable if you've gotten a new iPhone or iPad. You'll want to check out apple's online resource for learning iOS.

Turn to the experts

No, not the people who made it. The users! I find that software and hardware companies aren't always great at explaining how normal people like you and me should use their stuff. They get bogged down in documentation and explaining every last setting and forget to explain how to incorporate the new thing into your daily life.

This is why I like finding user generated content- like reviews, demonstrations, and how-to's.

Just search google for “how to [do thing x] on [device y]“.  You'll be surprised to find that a lot of people have already answered the questions you come up with.

Practice makes perfect

The best way to become proficient with any new piece of software or hardware is to use it regularly.  Even if you ignore the instructions and never watch any tutorials online, you'll get pretty far by just trying it over and over again.

So, instead of putting your shiny new gadget back in the box and promising yourself that you'll learn to use it, leave it out on your kitchen counter and get to using it!

What new technology are you tackling this year? How do you plan to learn to use it?

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