When it’s time to learn SharePoint no one gives you enough time and resources. You are using your free time, the evening and the weekend. Everyone is expecting results and no one has a plan for you.
There's one huge problem for everyone and it doesn't matter if you're a developer, administrator or end user: If you don't know what SharePoint is and why it has been created you won't be happy using it.
A lot of people feel "forced" to use SharePoint since no one tells about its advantages. No one tells them about problems in their current working environment and how SharePoint makes it easier to get their work done.
You and I are used to our daily working routines and tools but this doesn't mean it's the most efficient way our work is done.
What is SharePoint
Based on my experience it depends on just one questions if you're good at working with SharePoint or if you fail. You can be a good developer but if you don't understand your customers pains points you fail. You can be a skilled end user but if you're forced to switch your daily working routine and tools you won't use the full potential of SharePoint.
That's why it's most important to fully understand why your current working environment may not be efficient. Why you do work which may be already done. Why you try to learn something someone else might already know.
What is SharePoint?
"I need something to store, to manage and to retrieve information, to find a person who may have the information I need and to access it from anywhere. I also need something that not only gets information I also need something that prepares, visualizes it or sorts it by relevance."
"An application that can do all the things will have a great impact on my performance during my working day."
You are an Information Worker. I'm an Information worker. The whole day we try to find information, use it and store it. At the end we have new information which can be used to make a decision. But is our decision right? Did we miss something? We need to justify our decision and because of that we have to take everything into account.
Of course SharePoint can do all these things:
Watch a 4min video with the whole story: What is SharePoint?
Content, sites, communities, search, insights and composites!
What seems to be very confusing stands for the vision behind SharePoint and addresses the problems of an Information Worker. In short: You can store content in SharePoint, it's structured using sites, all is available to you and others using search and may be displayed in a more useful way using insights.
Of course it's more complicated but you get the basic idea.
And it doesn't mater if you use SharePoint 2013 or SharePoint 2010: They share all basic concepts. on top of them they add enhanced or new features.
Watch a 14min video about the basic SharePoint concepts: Buzzwords: What is SharePoint 2010 (2013)?
Lists, Lists, Lists!
If you have heard or read something about SharePoint it may have been about lists.
Lists are everywhere and the way to store data in SharePoint. In this case user content, templates or SharePoint configuration files.
The advantage that comes with SharePoint is that you have everything ready to go. You can configure everything you want to: Columns, View, Permission, Workflows and much more.
Watch a 10min video about content in SharePoint: How to store data in SharePoint? - Columns, Item, Lists, Libraries, Site
Working with data
SharePoint uses different ways to display data to you and allows you to use content in different ways.
Just by doing configurations. Web Parts or Controls mostly display data and gives you a way to interact with it. Workflows are used to start a process and to involve different people in it.
It's the second important step in SharePoint: If you want to enhance the way people work you need a great way to store data and to display it in a more meaningful way to users.
Video: How to work with data in SharePoint? - All about Web Parts, Controls, Event Handler, Workflows
You are ready!