Sunday, May 08, 2005

Work Smarter -- Learn New Tricks

Over the last few days, I’ve been sending out a number of books through priority mail. I love the way the United States Post Office provides the labels and the flat rate envelope. I do not like writing the address on the label by hand. Truth be told my handwriting is actually printing. No one on the planet would be able to read my handwriting and it’s a challenge for people to read my printing.

I have used the envelope feature of MS-Word for a long time and it’s a real time saver. You slide an envelope into your printer and the result looks professional. What if I changed the direction of the envelope feed and instead of an envelope, I inserted a Priority Mail label? I began to experiment with the program to see if I could make this change. The program is point and click, so I didn’t have to do any fancy programming or read the manual. It only involved a couple of test printings but I figured out how to do it.

Now my label will look professional (typed instead of handwritten) and it will save time. Over the past few weeks, I’ve handwritten many of these labels and figure over the years ahead I will generate hundreds of them. The little bit of time saved will amount to a lot of time in the long run.

I’m constantly looking for little ways to improve anything that I do on a regular basis. If I can position something in a better place where it’s easier to reach or learn a new trick on the computer, then I can work more efficiently and it leaves more time for other things—like writing.

Take a few moments and consider your own writing life. Are there things you haven’t taken the time to learn about your computer or your wordprocessing program? Would it be worth a few minutes each day or at least once a week to try and learn a new feature? If it helps your effectiveness as a writer, then I suggest you do it. Each of us need to learn to work smarter.

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