I am always on the lookout for ways to save time. Who wouldn’t want to get more done in less time?
My objective is not just to employ technology or do work differently. The solution must actually save me time.
A large portion of my day involves typing. Thanks to Chicky Sorrentino, my high school typing teacher my touch typing isn’t bad. So to improve my productivity I needed to type fewer characters.
To my rescue is Type Expander, a typing shortcut utility for Macs. It allows me to setup keyboard shortcuts called snippets. I designate a few characters to represent larger strings of text that I find myself typing often.
I simply type the characters of the snippet. Text Expander instantaneously auto types the rest. It works in most programs on my Mac.
For example people often ask me how to use Evernote features. I created a snippet that contains all the details with hyperlinks. Now when I type ‘;ever’ Text Expander is listening for those characters. Like magic it automatically expands.
It’s very useful for filling out forms. I’ve created snippets for usernames, emails, addresses and phone numbers. It’s a breeze to complete those fields.
You can also use Text Expander to correct your spelling mistakes. Are there words that you consistently mistype? Create a snippet. Now when you type ‘sucessful’ it will be changed to ‘successful’.
It’s a great way to type signs and symbols. I’d always have to look up the keyboard strokes to write the copyright symbol. Now I use a snippet to quickly write ©.
The concept was what I’ve dreamed about. Now it’s possible. To start off I created about few dozen snippets. It took a couple of hours but it saves me so much time it gives me goosebumps.
It allows me to type faster without switching between programs looking for the info I want to share. It is quick and easy to use.
Text Expander is a big time saver for text I use repeatedly. What about new content? How do I save time when I’m writing something new or unique?
For the last few months, I’ve been using dictation more frequently.
The technology was developed for those with visual impairment. For those of us who can see, it can help increase how quickly and accurately we get words to the screen.
First I started using it on my iPhone. I can dictate much quicker than typing with my thumbs. The touch screen keyboard can be extremely slow and error-ridden even for those who are skilled.
To dictate in iOS place the cursor in the text field within any app. Then click on the microphone symbol to the left of the space bar on the screen keyboard. When you’re finished click Done.
Your voice is transcribed in real time. You can place the cursor within the text if you want to make corrections with the keyboard.
Once you get used to voice dictation it tends to be much more accurate than typing. How many email messages have you seen ending with “please excuse the typos, my iPhone thinks it knows what I want to say”?
Dictation will not add punctuation as you speak sentences. You have to indicate when to add punctuation, symbols, capitalize letters or a start a new line or paragraph.
I’ve indicated some of the commands you’ll use with Dictation at the end of this post.
At first, I felt kind of silly saying ‘new line’. It didn’t take too long to become proficient at dictating emails and lists to my iPhone.
After a test drive on the iPhone, I wanted to try dictating longer pieces on my laptop.
There have been a few programs around for several years for purchase. I use the free feature built right into OS X to turn my spoken words into typed text.
Not only is this integrated into the operating system but I have found that it’s very accurate.
It’s easy to install Dictation. From the Apple menu, go to System Preferences and click Dictation and Speech.
Within the dialog box turn on Dictation and check the box to Use Enhanced Dictation. You can change the language and select the microphone you want to use.
When you want to use Dictation you turn it on with a keyboard shortcut. You can select one of the ones recommended or customize your own. Make it easy to use but not something you could turn on accidentally.
It will take a couple minutes to install Dictation. Then you are ready to give it a try.
It works great with words but that’s not all.
Recently I was entering numbers in a financial program I use regularly. I used Dictation and it cut in half the time I usually spend on the task.
Imagine how productive I’d be if I could cut every task in half?
Everyone who works with me or reads my blog or Tweets will be touched by Text Expander or the Dictation feature whether you realize it or not.
Intrigued by how Text Expander or Dictation could help increase your productivity? Just ask. I love to share my tips and secrets.
As I mentioned you have to speak punctuation or spacing.
For example, if I wanted to Tweet: “You can’t make time; so those who waste the least, achieve the most. – Tim Fargo.” I’d have to speak: “You can’t make time ‘semi-colon’ so those who waste the least ‘comma’ achieve the most ‘period’ ‘dash’ Tim Fargo”
This is a partial list of what you can use with Dictation.
Period – .
Comma – ,
Apostrophe – ‘
Question mark – ?
Semi colon – ;
Colon – :
Open parentheses – (
Close parentheses – )
Open quote – “
Closed quote – “
backslash – \
Dash – –
Ampersand – &
At sign – @
Copyright sign – ©
Trademark sign – ™
Equal sign – =
Hashtag – #
Dollar sign – $
Pound Sterling sign – £
Euro sign – €