A Beginner’s Guide to Using ChatGPT to Speed up Your Workflow

New technology is often met with skepticism. For example:

  • In 1876, Western Union president William Orton said: “This ‘telephone’ has far too many shortcomings to be taken seriously as a means of communication. It has objectively no value.”
  • In 1903, attorney Horace Rackham had a chance to invest in Henry ford’s automobile company. When he asked a banker for advice, the banker said: “The horse is here to stay, but the automobile is only a novelty — a fad.” [1]
  • In 2007, Microsoft’s then-CEO Steven Balmer said: “There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share.”

Up until a few years ago, people claimed AI will never be able to replace artists. Now, you can write down a simple prompt and you can get stunning results.

Want an image of a cat wearing sunglasses, a leather jacket, and holding a boombox, cyberpunk style? Here you go. Took around 60 seconds for Midjourney to come up with this:

An image of a cat wearing sunglasses, a leather jacket, and carrying a radio in the style of cyberpunk, created using Midjourney.

That’s not to say AI doesn’t have any problems – there are definitely some ethical problems to be solved – but AI is getting uncomfortably good.

And it’s not just artists that have to worry about AI, writers (and knowledge workers in general) will have to compete with tools like ChatGPT.

Instead of fighting against it, it’s best to learn how to use it. Think about how the people who resisted learning how to use a computer are now struggling big time.

In this article, I’ll give you an overview of what ChatGPT is, how to get started, and how you can use it to improve your workflow.

What is ChatGPT

ChatGPT is an AI model created by OpenAI. It’s trained to allow people to interact with it in a conversational way. This means you can ask the model a question, get a response, and build on the previous answer. ChatGPT remembers what was said earlier in the conversation.

The best way to think of ChatGPT is that it’s “an e-bike for your mind.” It won’t do the work for you, but you can go faster. It speeds up your workflow by doing things like:

  • Generating social media posts from an input text
  • Turning keywords into headlines
  • Analyzing customer feedback and surfacing the most important benefits
  • Summarizing entire articles and extracting the main points
  • Generating simple code samples
  • Fixing bugs in code
  • Finding relationships in data

What ChatGPT won’t do for you

Even though it’s quite spectacular, ChatGPT isn’t magic. It’s trained on millions of pieces of text found on the internet, so anything it produces will be based on that.

Because of that, it can’t come up with anything new. It’ll always be based on something that already exists. It can, however, uncover relationships between topics that you wouldn’t have thought of.

Second, It’s just a robot. It doesn’t know how to write with emotion. And if it does it’s more that the AI has figured out that certain emotions appear in a certain context. The AI doesn’t know what the emotion means. Because of that, much of what it produces is dry and doesn’t qualify as “a thrilling read”.

Third, even though it’s good at replying in a way that makes it sound human, it doesn’t know whether things are true or not. ChatGPT sometimes gives answers that are completely wrong.

Lastly, because it’s a program, it follows a predictable way of answering questions. Tools like Originality.ai can detect whether a piece of text was likely written by an AI or not. Maybe that’s a good thing, I don’t know.

That brings up the question: If it’s not original and anti-AI tools can detect it, why use it? The uncomfortable truth is that most content written by humans isn’t that original either. There are only so many ways to explain how to boil an egg. Programmers have been copy-pasting code from StackOverflow since the beginning of StackOverflow.

Again, the best way to look at ChatGPT is as an assistant that helps you work, not your replacement.

In general, I find it’s best to use ChatGPT to kickstart, improve, or correct your work.

Getting started

Ok, so you want to learn how to use it. Great. Let’s get started by going to the ChatGPT website. Click the “TRY CHATGPT” button to go to the login page.

ChatGPT homepage

If this is your first time using anything created by OpenAI, you’ll have to create an account. This is a straightforward process where you just create a login and password and you’re good to go. If you already have one, use it to log in.

ChatGPT login screen

Once you create a password and verified your email address, you’re in and you can now use ChatGPT! You’ll be met by a screen that briefly explains how to use it.

ChatGPT prompt screen

To use it, simply type in a question or a prompt in the text bar at the bottom and the tool will reply to you. For example, you can ask it how ChatGPT works, and to explain it to you in simple terms. It’s quite impressive to see how well it understands the sentiment of what you’re saying.

Example of ChatGPT explaining a topic in simple terms.

You can also start giving it more complex prompts and allow the tool to come up with solutions to problems. Here, for example, I wanted to create a simple script that goes to the first page of Google and scrapes the first 10 results (Technically that’s against Google’s guidelines but this is just an example). Here’s the prompt I used:

"Create a python script that goes to the first page of Google for the keyword "ChatGPT" and scrapes the first 10 results into a CSV." 

And this is the result it gave me:

Example of ChatGPT creating code.

It’s great because it automatically:

  • Generated a Google search URL with the right parameter
  • knew to target H3 tags and get the links
  • Wrote it to CSV with the right headings

Not bad for 1 minute of work. 👌

Some examples to get you going

Again, ChatGPT won’t replace you (at least for now) and it’s best to view it as an assistant than something that will do the work for you. As I mentioned in my strategy article, humans are better at working with incomplete information than computers so it’s best if you come up with a general strategy of how you’re going to tackle the problem and let chatGPT do the legwork.

Generate headlines
Use the tool to get your own mind going and get some initial ideas.

Example prompt:

"Give me 10 ideas for headlines around the topic of productivity"
Example of ChatGPT coming up with headlines around the topic of productivity.

Debugging code

It’s not always clear where the bug in your code is and error messages aren’t always helpful either. ChatGPT can help you debug your code.

Example prompt

"This code produces this error when it should output X, check what is wrong with my code"
Example of ChatGPt debugging code and explaining the problem.

Summarize articles
ChatGPT can also read and summarize articles for you. Here, I asked it to summarize my article about thinking outside the box.

Example prompt:

"Summarize this article: [paste article]"
Example of ChatGPT summarizing an article

Get keyword ideas
If you’re in SEO, finding keywords about a topic you’re unfamiliar with can be a pain. You just don’t know enough about the topic to find out all the unrelated topics. ChatGPT can help by giving you related topics. [2]

Example prompt:

"What topics are related to [topic]?"
Example of ChatGPT coming up with topics related to web scraping.

Get an explanation
ChatGPT is surprisingly good at explaining things in a simple way. However, this is the kind of prompt where you should double-check if it’s correct. The AI is cool, but not perfect. Sometimes it gives you explanations that aren’t correct.

Example prompt:

"Explain X to me in simple terms."
Example of ChatGPT explaining a topic in simple terms.

In closing

Even though OpenAI itself admits that chatgpt has its flaws, it’s still an impressive research tool with the potential to change how people work. I’m definitely going to spend more time exploring what it can do.

Also, the examples I’ve shown you are all related to work or productivity. While that’s helpful, you can always have a little fun with it.

Example of ChatGPT talking like a twenties gangster.

It’s a real humdinger, alright!


Footnotes

  1. Rackham did end up investing $5000 in Henry Ford’s company. He later sold his stock for $12 500 000.
  2. Here are some more good chatGPT ideas for SEO.