Part II: A Miscellany of Techniques
by David Sands
I covered some of the basics of faster SmartWRITER in the first of these columns, and now I want to deal with a miscellany of techniques for getting the job done in less time and hopefully with less aggravation.
In no particular order, these ideas are some that I've used successfully and can recommend.
The more you use your ADAM, the better you'll be on it. It doesn't have to be word processing, but doing everything on the ADAM keeps you current -no time spell remembering.
A little thing like a power bar can save a remarkable amount of aggravation. One switch on a conveniently located bar and everything is on.
Prices on these things are now down to the reasonable level if you stay out of computer stores. Get you Club & points and save.
A decent, i.e. comfortable place to work is not only better for you and the ADAM, making the whole process more attractive, but a titanic time saver.
Working when you're fresh, eager and willing helps everything go better. I know a lot of you will say why waste being fresh, willing and eager on the ADAM, but that's your business.
Storing often gets mentioned with boring regularity, but, it doesn't hurt to keep it up. These days, paranoia is probably good mental health. The utility company is going to get you if you work without Storing.
Preset formats can save a small amount of time every time you use them. If, for example, you always write letters and print them out on letterhead paper, make up your margin / tab settings, horizontal, vertical, spacing, etc., key in "DONE" and then store it as LTR Format or something you'll always recognize. Since you'll always put a disk or data pack (DDP) into the ADAM to store on, make LTR Format the first file on each new one. When starting each letter, Get File your format and save the resetting. Store the letter under it's own filename, of course.
Envelopes benefit from this system, too. Because they're fussy, setting up a format you know prints right saves real time the next time.
If you write a lot of very similar things, letters for example, it's obvious that a preset complete letter will be useful:
An obvious time saver, just change the names.
Another great time saver is having a good number of disks or DDP's, especially DDP's. Because they're slow, keeping even single files on a single DDP can be a real time saver. The files on a DDP are stored one after another. The farther away from the Directory Block your active file is, the longer it takes to get. Keep the file selection small and get there faster.
But the more packs or disks you have, the greater the problem of knowing where the file you want is among those assorted media. Here I'm speaking from experience, all of it bad. Use a Catalog printing program from the Public Domain or a good copy program like File Manager (by AJM Software) to print out those directory listings and then stick 'em in the packs or on the sleeves of the disk. You can scan a dozen printed listings in the time it takes to get a directory on the screen.
Sometimes you don't much care how much time the ADAM needs, but others...
Keep a supply of formatted disks or DDP's handy even if you have to buy a larger quantity in advance of the need. Nothing wastes time like looking for something that ain't where it should be. Same goes for paper, ribbons and envelopes. I want you to know I am not speaking from any feeling of moral superiority for knowing all this stuff everything I've learned has been THE HARD WAY!
File management on media (disks and DDP's) saves time and conserves space. If you are a good writer and reviser, you'll keep improving your piece, probably storing again and again. Storing the final perfect effort on a separate media lets you recycle the work disk or DDP with an INIT or FORMAT and you can reuse it again. When I look at DDP's filled with filenames that don't ring any bells, I know it is time to clean house.
Moving on from purely mechanical techniques, let's deal with some behavior modification.
The best book on Time Management I've ever seen said it simply: Time management is really self-management. So it is with word processing.
Early studies of word processors discovered that they were slower than typewriters on first drafts, and faster on subsequent drafts. They're slower because you can easily go back and improve, correct and, especially, edit.
As someone once said, "If you think Education is expensive, try Ignorance." And if you think the ADAM and SmartWRITER is slow, go back to using a typewriter for your work. I have had to recently, and never again will a word of complaint pass my lips about ADAM -- well, not soon anyway!