Practice makes perfect? Or does it?

When I ask my students or audience what level they think they are with an application (Word, for example), they will often tell me they are expert. They have been writing papers in Word for several years, after all.

But just having done something for “X” years doesn’t automatically make you good at it.

You are simply good at what you have been doing, which might be simply typing papers. But that is only a small fraction of what Word is capable of. So, these students are nowhere near “expert.”

When you do one thing over and over, you can become very good at it. Just because you have gained a small amount of knowledge in an area, does not make you an expert.

Have you heard of the Dunning-Kruger effect? It is a cognitive bias in which people wrongly overestimate their knowledge or ability in a specific area. This tends to occur because a lack of self-awareness prevents them from accurately assessing their skills.

Only after continuing to explore a topic do people often realize how extensive it is and how much they still have to master.

We have all heard “practice makes perfect.” If what you mean by practice is simply repeating the same performance over and over, you are not advancing your knowledge of the program as a whole. You also have to deliberately find and fill in the gaps in your knowledge and skill.

Here’s an example: A co-worker was complaining of the time it took to retype a document. She said the numbering was off and not aligned correctly on several pages. No matter what she did, she could not fix it.

I was curious, so I asked to see the original document. Everything she said was true, but by showing the ruler, I was able to quickly align the numbers from page to page. Also, just by right clicking on a number that was off and setting the number value, I quickly corrected the numbers.

She had been using Word for years, but did not know of these two features.

One of the reasons I love teaching is when I hear “I never knew that feature was there?” or “That will make things so much easier.”

Continue working on those documents, spreadsheets and presentations. Just know that you might not be tapping into all that those applications have to offer.

I hope that I can help with that.

Watch my videos and download the resources.

We never stop learning.

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