Anyone Can Use AI Tools: Here’s How

focused female employee reading information on computer in office
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Are you drowning in tasks, yearning for more hours in a day, or simply itching to supercharge your creativity? What if I told you that a digital sidekick exists—one that’s awake 24/7, tailored to boost your efficiency and spark ingenuity? No, this isn’t science fiction; it’s the transformative power of AI tools at your fingertips.

Think AI is only for tech gurus and coding aficionados? Think again. AI is breaking down the ivory tower, becoming an invaluable asset for everyone from marketers and writers to busy parents. If you’re intrigued by the idea of harnessing AI to make your life more productive, more balanced, and yes, even more fun, then you’re in for a treat.

AI Tool Recommendations: ChatGPT, Notion, and DALL-E 2

Let’s start with the AI elephant in the room: ChatGPT! It’s the AI tool I use most often and it’s probably the best place to start for AI beginners.

So, if you haven’t already done so, head over to https://chat.openai.com/ to start using ChatGPT for yourself. It’s as easy as chatting or texting with a friend.

Other AI tools that are good places to start for beginners include:

How to Use AI: Mastering the Subtleties of “Prompt Engineering”

You’ve heard the phrase “It’s not what you say; it’s how you say it,” right? In the world of AI, it’s both what you say and how you say it that count. This concept crystallizes into what we call “Prompt Engineering”—the art and science of effectively instructing AI to get the response you’re looking for.

Prompt Engineering is crucial because even sophisticated models like ChatGPT-4 rely on the context and clarity provided by your prompt. A poorly-structured or ambiguous prompt often results in equally confusing or lackluster responses. Therefore, learning to master your prompts can be the difference between a frustrating experience and one that feels like you’re interacting with a truly helpful digital assistant.

Practical Tips for Prompt Engineering

  1. Be Specific: If you’re looking for a detailed answer, make sure your prompt outlines this expectation. For example, instead of asking, “Tell me about coffee,” you could say, “Explain the difference between Arabica and Robusta coffee beans in terms of flavor and caffeine content.”
  2. Set the Format: If you’re after information in a particular structure, guide the AI by stating that upfront. For example, “List the steps to create a simple Python program to say ‘Hello, World!'”
  3. Ask for Revisions: If the AI’s first attempt doesn’t quite hit the mark, use that output as a stepping stone. You can say, “That’s a good start, but can you elaborate on X?” or “That’s close, but can you rephrase that in simpler terms?”
  4. Be Interactive: Don’t be afraid to have a back-and-forth with the AI. These tools are designed for interactivity. Feel free to ask follow-up questions or seek clarifications just as you would in a conversation with a human.

By understanding and applying these principles of prompt engineering, you’ll be able to maximize the capabilities of AI tools, making them far more valuable in your personal and professional life. It’s like learning to speak a new digital dialect—one that can unlock doors you didn’t even know existed.

The MOST Important AI Tool Tip: Iterate, Iterate, Iterate!

I’m repeating myself and making this its own section because it’s so important. One of the very best things about these new generative AI tools is that you can iterate with them.

That is, you can go back-and-forth with the AI tool, asking for improvements, revisions, clarifications, etc.!

At first, this might not seem like a big deal, but it really is the KEY for getting AI to produce good, helpful content for you.

For example: Ask ChatGPT to write an email to your boss asking for a raise. If you don’t like what it gives you back, then use this opportunity to get specific about what you want. Too formal? Not formal enough? Don’t just ask for more money, but also better hours? List reasons X, Y, and Z why you deserve the raise?

Hell, just the back-and-forth process alone is beneficial, because it forces you to get clear and get specific!

Bottom line: Don’t give up on an AI tool if its first response doesn’t blow you away. Instead, leverage the tool’s capabilities, and take the opportunity to clarify your desires and thoughts, by ITERATING. Go back-and-forth with these tools and you’ll be impressed with where they can take you!

AI Reading Recommendations

Want to learn more about AI tools and how to use them?

I’d like to introduce you to three incredibly insightful articles by Ethan Mollick over at “One Useful Thing.” They’re packed with practical knowledge and will get you started on your AI journey.

How To Use AI to Do Practical Stuff: A New Guide

In “How to Use AI to Do Practical Stuff,” Ethan delivers a comprehensive overview of the major generative AI players on the market today. He doesn’t just stop at naming them; he delves into writing, images, idea generation, video, coding, learning, and other categories, showing how AI tools can assist you in ways you might not have imagined. Start with this article to get ideas flowing.

Onboarding Your AI Intern

Imagine having an intern who never sleeps and is always eager to help. In “Onboarding Your AI Intern,” Ethan walks through the various considerations involved in thinking of new generative AI tools like a digital intern of sorts.

At first glance, you might think an intern is unnecessary for your workflow. But take a moment to reflect on the myriad tasks you perform in a given week. In this era of digital transformation, with an influx of AI tools, I’m confident that there are tasks you can offload to an AI intern, giving you more time to focus on what truly matters.

How to Use AI to Do Stuff: An Opinionated Guide

In “How to Use AI to Do Stuff: An Opinionate Guide,” Ethan gives an updated (summer 2023) overview of recommendations for AI tools in various task categories. It’s a quickly-evolving landscape, but hopefully reading through these pieces will help you come up with a shortlist of new tools to experiment with!


Do you already use AI tools in some capacity? Are certain questions or obstacles holding you back? Please let me know in the comments below!

By joshuapsteele

The Rev. Dev. I solve problems with a pastor's heart for people and a programmer's eye for detail. Learn more at https://steele.omg.lol/

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