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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Importance of Spares and Knowing Your Weaknesses

Raise your hands if you're prepared in the event that your headphones or pedal should suddenly stop working properly. Anyone? Anyone? I'm sure there's a few of you out there, maybe more than a few, but I'm willing to bet that there are a large number who are not. Don't be embarrassed -- you can count me among those who are not, so you're not alone.

You'd think I'd have learned my lesson by now. I've been lucky as far as pedals go, but headphones don't last so long around here, not with the kids yanking on them and toddlers eating the silicon ear buds. Yep, you read that right! Last year my then one-year-old DD popped them in her mouth and it was several days before I saw them again. Of course, they were immediately relegated to the trash.

I experienced this again last week when the right side of my headphones shorted out. Luckily I did have a spare this time, my iPod ear buds, but I'm not very fond of them. They hurt my ears and make transcribing for any length of time very uncomfortable.

So why don't I have a spare set of my preferred headphones or a spare pedal? Honestly, I don't have a good answer. Excuses yes; answers, not so much. I mean certainly the time wasted in lost productivity and the aggravation are not worth it.

After kicking myself for not being proactive in this area, knowing how important it is and how easily I could have avoided the situation, I started thinking about what other areas I need to improve in. I came up with three areas to work on over the next few months. First of all, when I replace my headphones, I'm going to purchase two sets this time so I always have a backup available, because I know I'm going to need them eventually. I mean, with five kids, it's only a matter of time!

Secondly, I can't remember the last time I've cleaned up my text expanders. I have tons of shortcuts from a radio show that I used to transcribe regularly that I can put into a separate file, because I only need them for when I'm filling in these days. Plus, there's a lot of expanders that maybe I added for a single file and then never deleted, and I'd also like to implement some of the suggestions from Mandi and Shaina's text expander lists that I don't use currently.

The final area that I'd like to improve is my knowledge of Microsoft Word shorcuts. I know that I could greatly improve my productivity by becoming more familiar with the various keyboard shortcuts, yet I've never made a conscious effort to force myself to use them consistently. I'm looking forward to starting a series to focus on this aspect later this week.

So how about you -- what areas do you feel that you need improvement in?