Why Bother Reading the Instructions?

Why bother reading the instructions? I’ll tell you why. They are there for a reason—several reasons, in fact. Why would you expect yourself to know how to operate something before you knew anything about it? Certainly there are things in life that we have to learn for ourselves. As children we are not going to truly learn that the stove is hot, until we touch the hot stove—lesson learned. However, with many other things, instructions are provided. Think about it. You had to learn how to work your DVD player and your new cell phone. You had to learn how to follow a recipe and even how to take a test.

Click Here To Get A Free Report On 16 Proven Ways To Motivate Your Child To Do Better In School...

Plus, receive a "Live Demonstration Inside Our Unique 1 On 1 Online Classroom."
You can learn just about anything by reading and following the instructions! That is, unless there is someone by your side showing you how to do something, but chances are, they are still walking you through the task by using verbal instructions. In addition, we can’t rely on people always being around to help us in our time of need.

Here is another reason; simply, reading the instructions makes doing the task easier. We seem to be a society that has trouble asking for help. When we are given instructions, there is no need to ask for assistance. There is no shame in needing help with something, and chances are, if something comes with instructions, it is probably because you will need help with the task somewhere along the way. We are not expected to know how to do everything; we just like to think we do!

Another reason is, we are a culture that wants immediate gratification, and we feel that by taking time out to read, we are taking time away from getting to the end result. Ironically, we often spend more time re-doing something that we did wrong because we did not read the instructions, and we thereby have to re-do something which only leads to taking up more time. Often we jump in and try to get something done quickly, without taking time to prepare.

Think of the instructions as a road map. Here is where you start, and here is where you want to end up. It is best to look at this road map, first as a whole. Then work out the details, review the detours and highways, and get an idea of your path. Then you can confidently move forward. The same goes for reading the instructions. At least skim through them, and get an idea of where you are ‘headed’ with the task at hand. Then you can go back, step-by-step, and follow those instructions, in order.

People have often said to me, “Lori, you are so smart, how did you know how to do that?” Ninety-nine out of one hundred times, my answer is, “Umm…I read the instructions!”

The reality is, by going through each step, ‘as instructed,’ not just by randomly going through the motions, one learns a great deal. You may not even realize it at the time. I can almost guarantee you that you will learn at least one new thing with every set of instructions you take the time to read; and with that, the next time you embark on a task, you will be able to apply something that you learned from reading those instructions, to the new task.

Every time you read the instructions on something, you will be building on your knowledge base. My personal theory is that learning is a life-long puzzle, much like a Sudoku puzzle. Trial and error, along with reasonable deduction and educated guesses will help you solve the entire puzzle (not just the bottom-left quadrant!)

So, why bother to read the instructions? Because they are there for a reason: to make you “look" smart! :)

Related Articles