I’ve been teaching end-users various operating systems and Microsoft Office applications for many years now and in that time I have become fairly acquainted with a lot different computer help and how-to books on the market. Sudhir Diddee’s book Priceless Computer Tips at Your Fingertips is unlike any help and how-to book I’ve seen thus far.
Rather than creating yet another beginner deep-dive book on any one application, or a task-based step-by-step reference book, Diddee has compiled a simple book of tips covering a variety of applications that an “average office worker,” a label given to the book’s intended reader, could use to shave time off of ordinary daily tasks performed on Windows 7 and its common applications (Outlook, Excel, Word, PowerPoint, and OneNote). These “tips” take many forms, be it a not-so-commonly-known keyboard shortcut, application or OS feature, or in some cases advice on how to better leverage a feature that has been staring you in the face, every day, since the application was first loaded onto your machine. Typically, application manuals (take the Missing Manuals books for instance) treat tips such as these as an aside to the narrative or explanatory flow of the book, placing the tips in a shadowy box or divided sidebar. Here, Diddee has turned the spotlight onto these tips, making them the focus of the book.
In short, this is not your typical book, and it cannot be read as such. In fact, I would not recommend reading this book cover-to-cover or keeping it on the desk like you would a reference book. As the preface suggests, the purpose of the book is to change an old habit—the habit of how we navigate and utilize features of our computer and its applications. And considering how hard it is to break an old habit, Diddee recommends we familiarize ourselves with a few tips at a time and really force ourselves to follow those tips until they become rooted.
In reading this book, I decided to try and take his advice. For one week, I took his very first tip, a keyboard shortcut to lock my machine, one that I’ve known about for some time now but for one reason or another—call it habit—I’ve never actually used (Windows Start Key + L), and I forced myself to really use it. For the first couple of days before going to a meeting or to lunch, I’d catch myself reaching for the mouse and moving it towards the start button, only to stop myself and think, “Oh right, use the keyboard shortcut.” But by the end of that week, I didn’t have to think about it; now I just use the shortcut! Is it shaving hours off of my work time? Of course not. But it IS faster. And with time, as I begin to incorporate more of his tips (this week, I’m focusing on using Outlook Quick Steps, Ctrl + R, and Ctrl + F), I expect that these saved seconds will add up to something quite substantial.
All in all, if you are someone who has already been using Windows 7, Microsoft Outlook, Excel, Word, PowerPoint, and OneNote, and feel you’ve fallen victim to the force of habit, this book can help you discover a few new ways of doing things, and unleash a more productive and efficient computing you.
Sudhir is offering the 1st chapter as a free preview to Petri members. You can download it as a PDF here.