Monday, September 26, 2011

Writing Hack: Launch Your WIP With Your Keyboard (Windows Only)

I'm a pretty big adherent of David Allen's Getting Things Done methodology for productivity, which I've mentioned before. About a year and a half ago, David interviewed Buzz Bruggeman, co-founder of Activewords. Activewords is an add-on to MS Windows that allows you to assign tasks (text substitution, webpage launch, folder navigation, file launch) to a single word. For instance, you could set it so that when you type "blog," hit the trigger (two taps of the spacebar) and it will launch the "new post" page for your blog.

The amazing bit about Activewords is that it works anywhere--it's using your keystrokes, not an input panel. So if I'm right here in my blog and type an activeword and the trigger, the word disappears from my blog and launches the activeword. I can type words straight from my desktop, or any other place where I can't even see the word being typed, and the active word will still trigger.

Why is this a writing hack? Sometimes, the biggest barrier to getting to work is just getting started. Each of my WIPs is saved as WIP_current in my Dropbox (more on that later), and I have an activeword which points to it. So for SONATA, I could just type  "Sonata" wherever I happen to be in my system, hit the spacebar twice and boom! There's my document. 

Some people have estimated that a huge percentage of our time is lost moving from keyboard to mouse to keyboard. The more you can shortcut under your ten fingers, the less resistance you put between yourself and your creative output. So give Activewords a try. It's free for a version which allows you to create up to 30 Activewords, and $50 for an unlimited version. If you try it, come back and tell me what you think.


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