Following Lori Paximadis’s excellent article on Mac productivity tips last week, here are five productivity tips for editors who use Windows.
- Why type the same text over and over again when you can use a text expander to accomplish the same thing? PhraseExpress (30-day free trial) works in all your programs (unlike Word’s AutoCorrect). Type a few characters and watch it expand your shortcut to anything from a word to several paragraphs: e-mail sigs, standard queries, any boilerplate text. I can’t type “lieutenant” right the first time to save my life; “=lt” does it for me.
- Learn and use keyboard shortcuts. Mousing requires eye-hand coordination and makes you take your hand off the keyboard and reposition it, whereas a few keystrokes often accomplish the same task more quickly. Use the Customize Keyboard dialog box to assign shortcuts to your favorite commands, reassign default shortcuts you’ll never use to commands you use often, or change existing shortcuts to ones that are easier to remember. You can use symbols in your key combos to free up letter combinations; I use Alt plus the comma, period, slash, semicolon, left bracket, and right bracket to jump to various bookmarks in my style sheet.
- Invest in software that’s specially designed for editing. I’m a huge fan of Jack Lyon’s Editorium (45-day free trial). Editorium offers a suite of Word add-ins that will save you loads of time on routine tasks. Editor’s Toolkit Plus alone is worth its weight in gold. Editorium also offers some great free resources. Daniel Heuman’s PerfectIt (30-day free trial) is a powerful, customizable consistency checker that shows you potential errors or inconsistencies in text and lets you choose what to do. You can set up custom style sheets for each client or project. Both of these resources will quickly pay for themselves, and both come with offer excellent tech support.
- Power up your searches by using the options available under “More” in the Find and Replace dialog box, particularly wildcard searches. Wildcards enable you to search for things that match a pattern, rather than just particular strings of characters. Here’s a great tutorial. Important: Turn off Track Changes when using wildcards, because they don’t play well together and will generate weird and undesirable results.
- I’m a huge fan of multiple monitors for productivity (Ed. note: Mac users can also have multiple monitors). This article provides a great overview. Having full documents side by side makes comparing and copying/pasting text much faster. I have four monitors: two in portrait orientation for viewing full-page PDFs, long paragraphs or tables, or any vertical content, and two widescreen, one of which is dedicated to the Internet: e-mail, browser, social media, and so on. DisplayFusion lets me put a taskbar on each monitor and provides many other customizations and shortcuts for managing windows. Alt + Tab lets me cycle quickly through open windows. For laptops, you can discover the joy of portable USB monitors, many of which are priced around $100, a bargain considering the productivity you will gain. Bonus tip: Can’t find your pointer in all that screen real estate? Tap the Ctrl key to activate an animated “target” around the pointer.
Have you heard the saying “There’s an app for that?” There’s also usually a shortcut for that. Poke around in both Word and Windows and see how you can tweak shortcuts to boost your productivity.
Share your efficiency and productivity tips for Windows users in the comments!