By Bob Hubbard
An important part of getting the maximum benefit from your computer is to be certain you understand it and it's use.
#Understand how to use the basic features of your computer
Knowing how to properly turn on and turn off your computer will save you many headaches later on. Other skills needed are how to use your CD or DVD drive, the mouse, how to manage your documents, and how to access the Internet. Basic maintenance skills such as backing up crucial information and protect yourself from computer viruses, hoaxes and other security risks will come in very handy as well
#Understand the basics of the Internet
You don’t have to be an expert, but understanding how to find your way in the electronic world will give you an edge over your competition. Basic skills such as using search sites like Google and Yahoo, and the basics of electronic mail are two keys to this. Search sites are excellent sources of information, provided you use them correctly. More people today are turning to them than turn to their phone books or print encyclopedias for news, information and recreation. Properly used, the Internet can help you keep a step or two ahead of your competition. If your school has a web site, it is very important that you and your key people have these basic skills, so that you can make full use of it as both a marketing and news tool.
# Understand how to use electronic mail as a communications tool.
Today, more and more communications is being done through the world wide communications network called the Internet. A great deal of this is done through the use of electronic mail or email. There are dozens of different programs used, some free, some for a small fee, so I’ll avoid program specific tips here, but give a few suggestions for best use of this tool.
- Know what your email address is and have it listed correctly when you contact someone. Too often I reply to messages where the sender has typos or other errors in their return address, which slows and sometimes stops any chance I have of responding to their message.
- Make certain you have your name correctly entered into your program. Again, too often I get messages from the default names and have no idea who contacted me.
- Make sure you use the “Signature” feature of your email program to include basic contact information on every message you send. Think of it as a mini business card.
- Understand how to write, send, read and reply to messages.
- Check your email regularly. People today expect almost immediate responses, so daily at least is recommended.
#Understand how to use the basic features of your computers word processing software.
All computers sold today include a basic text editing software, and more advanced programs are also available and often times included. You don’t need to be a wizard, but basic functions such as starting a document, writing, centering, bolding and italicizing text, printing it, saving it and finding it again are very important. Other advanced skills such as complex formatting, including pictures or artwork, as well as specialty layouts can save you printing costs, design costs and give you a professional business presence.
#Understand how to use your printer.
Many systems sold today include an inexpensive printer. You should know how to load paper, change the ink cartridge, and use it’s basic features, as well as use it from your various programs. Using your printer correctly can cut your costs, save you time and allow you more time to talk to clients and prospects rather than driving to printers.
#Understand how to use book-keeping software.
There are countless systems out there for book keeping. File cards, multicolumn ledgers, folders, boxes and even bags. All have serious disadvantages. Properly used, a basic book-keeping program can greatly improve your ability to track your income and expenses, contact information, employees, customers and more. You can see at a glance how you are doing, and where you need to focus your attention.
As we’ve seen, the proper use of computers to your martial arts school can save you time, improve your efficiency, and keep you ahead of the competition. But we are all challenged for time today, so how can you gain these skills in a timely manner so that you can get back to the business of martial arts?
There are three main ways to learn these skills.
1- Trial and Error, or the old “poke it with a stick til you figure it out” method. This is of course one we all try from time to time. It is unfortunately, the least efficient.
2- Learn from books or videos. Books and videos are great references, and on some programs, all you might need. Two series I highly recommend are the “Dummies” books, and the “Visual Guides”. The former puts things in simple terms, explains all the jargon and offers a nice introduction to the basics, while the latter is loaded with step by step pictures pointing out almost every mouse click or key hit.
3- Find a qualified teacher. This one should be the most familiar to us. Learning computers is much like learning martial arts. We need the right tools, and the right teacher to really do our best. But, finding that qualified teacher can be a challenge. Today, specialty training centers, most of our big computer stores, office supply chains, and even electronic stores seem to offer some form of computer training. So, when shopping for training, what should you look for?
Join us next week for part 3, shopping for your new PC.
Bob Hubbard is an administrator of the popular martial arts portal site MartialTalk.com and president of SilverStar WebDesigns inc., a web site design and hosting company specializing in affordable solutions for martial artists. Bob can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Article Copyright © 2008 - Bob Hubbard - All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction Without Written Permission of Author.