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What is an AI-first mindset? 

An AI-first mindset is a way of thinking that embraces the power and potential of artificial intelligence to enhance your work and creativity. It means you're not afraid to use AI as a partner, helper or copilot in your projects, tasks and challenges. It also means that you're willing to learn from AI, experiment with AI, and improve your AI skills over time.

Why pair with an AI copilot?

Being in the world of software engineering, I've grown accustomed to pair programming — a practice where two developers work together on the same code using one computer. Pair programming has many benefits, such as improving code quality, productivity and knowledge. By pairing with another developer, you can learn from each other, share ideas, and solve problems faster and better.

Outside of software development work, I find myself craving that extra set of eyes and the ability to both bounce ideas off someone else, to get a head start on idea generation. This is where having an AI copilot comes into play. Since I can now chat with AI, I've used it to help come up with ideas, ask questions to help me fill out a document, and even start drafting this article for me. You don't need AI to do everything or even keep what is produces. You just need it to give you a hand in making your work easier.

3 ways I'm using AI today

Generative AI (GenAI) is a powerful technology that can help with a variety of everyday tasks. However, it can be overwhelming to comb through dozens of articles that list hundreds of ideas on how to use GenAI solutions without actually showing you how to implement them.

That's why I decided to share with you three examples of how I use GenAI tools to make my life easier and more productive. These are techniques I've personally tried and found useful, and I hope they inspire you to explore the possibilities of AI for yourself.

1. Help with large documents via Microsoft Edge Copilot

Not only can Microsoft Copilot summarize webpages for you, but it can summarize PDFs. You can ask Copilot to answer questions based on whatever content you're viewing. Looking for a specific company policy but don't remember the details? Open the handbook in Edge, pose your question and have Copilot show you what page the answer is on. Need to collect all action items and key takeaways from a meeting? Open up the meeting transcript and ask Copilot to pull out this information.

2. Keep meetings flowing by having a pocket expert

I don't know how many times I've been in a meeting and someone casually uses a TLA that I have no context for. Instead of stopping the meeting to ask for clarification, or stealthily trying to do a web search and looking through the information on my own, I can simply ask AI to define the term for the specific context. "What is an RFP when talking about projects? What is a TLA? What is a SWOT and how do I make one?" This application is useful for unfamiliar terms in general and can turn a "what is a ..." question into a "it's my understanding that ..." statement. Even though both represent ways to clarify what is going on, the AI-assisted approach leaves the impression of being much more learned.

3. Talking through problems

Do you find it easier to talk through a problem instead of cutting straight to the explanation? AI can help you get from point A to point B with ease. Here, there are two approaches to get the most out of this functionality:

  • Microdumps: Start out your conversation with "I am going to give you some information, reply 'ok' unless I ask you a question." With this technique, you can give the AI the context that you have in your head so that you are both on the same page. Each time you finish a thought, go ahead and send your chat. When you are done, you can ask questions "with the above context" to get targeted answers and collaboration. This makes chatting with AI much more analogous to chatting with a knowledgeable peer, especially if you can use voice input.
  • Ask me what I know: This phrase is helpful for when you need to convey information but do not know how best to get it out. Here, you explain the base format and requirements for your communication, then instruct your AI copilot to "ask me questions to get all the required information." This can turn collecting information out of your head into a much easier, targeted task. When you are done, you can even have your AI copilot help you create the final document based off your earlier messages.


As you can see, AI can be a powerful ally for your work and creativity. It can help you with tasks that are tedious, complex and unfamiliar. It can also help you find information, organize your thoughts, and communicate more effectively. By using AI tools like Microsoft Copilot, you can save time, improve your skills, and enhance your productivity.

However, to get the most out of AI, you need to change your mindset and habits. Instead of doing everything yourself, think about how you can delegate some of the work to AI. Before you start a task, ask yourself: "Can I get AI to do this for me?" If the answer is yes, then apply the appropriate technique to get it done. If the answer is no, then ask yourself: "Can I get AI to help me with this?" If the answer is yes, then use AI as a copilot or a consultant for guidance and support. If the answer is no, then do the task yourself, but keep an eye on the latest developments in AI that might make your task easier in the future. 

AI is less a threat to or replacement of human workers than it is a partner and a resource that can augment your capabilities and potential. By embracing AI and learning how to use it effectively, you can achieve more than you ever imagined. So, what are you waiting for? Start using AI today and see the difference for yourself.