Your User Manual

Many of us have spent time looking through manuals or the documentation for some software or product. I know I’m on the MS docs site regularly for work, and there is no shortage of times I’ve used various manuals to help me fix something around the house. We usually use a manual when we want to learn how something is supposed to work, or how to get it to do what we want.

I saw a post on a personal user manual that I thought was a good idea for some people, maybe many people. This isn’t a manual for how you should live your life or work, but rather, how others might interact with you. This manual describes how you work, what motivates you, stimulates you, what pleases you, and even the environment in which are most productive.

Whether or not this is something you might give to co-workers (or your boss), it likely is a good exercise for you to undertake personally. I do think this might be something you give out, but only if you have a lot of confidence it will be taken seriously and well received. Just going through the process, however, might help you better understand yourself, and you might learn something about what matters to you. Sometimes the things we think we like or want aren’t really the things that actually make us happier or more productive. I know I enjoy traveling, but too much creates a lot of stress. I like speaking in front of an audience but within certain boundaries. I like running, but my joints and bones will tell me that I really can’t have that in my life anymore.

I’m going to make a quick, outline of my manual here. I like independent work, creative work, and the chance to decide how to do things. I like to work with deadlines, but without micromanagement. I want to be at home much of the time but go to an office and other places to interact with people periodically and regularly. I like working asynchronously most of the time, but synchronous brainstorming sessions are valuable. I like feedback to be written overall and with some thought and reasoning behind it, not a like/dislike/emotional response to my behavior.

I think I could better flesh out different ideas with more detail and organize things better, but I enjoyed taking five minutes and thinking about my first reactions. Now I need to go back and revise this draft with a little more insight and consideration.

Let me know today what you would think your user manual should say.

Steve Jones

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About way0utwest

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2 Responses to Your User Manual

  1. wheelmans says:

    There is an App for that! My Company has just started using Humantelligence. I also see a plugin for Teams. It does exactly what is in our article.


  2. pianorayk says:

    Reblogged this on Welcome to Ray Kim's 'blog and commented:
    As a technical writer, anything that mentions “manual” (or “documentation”, for that matter) tends to catch my eye. I suppose it’s an occupational hazard. But when I saw this post from my friend, Steve Jones, it made me take notice.

    I’m reblogging this for my own personal reference as much as anything else. Suppose you had a set of instructions for yourself? How would it read?

    I might try this exercise for myself at some point, but for the moment, read Steve’s article, and see if you can come up with your own manual for yourself.


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