SOS SIGNAL: Answering the call for a simplified life.
Taking Shortcuts
There's no denying that pocket-sized devices and easy-to-hold tablets are convenient and useful, but when it comes to the detailed production of day-to-day documents, one needs a computer and keyboard.

Presentations, brochures, letters, spreadsheets, and book-length manuscripts require the time-tested behemoth that includes a screen, software, data storage, a mouse, and a keyboard. All-in-one, touch screen devices may be poised to take over the future, but for now, if you want to create a big project, you need a big machine.

Laptops and desktops, in addition to being larger and less mobile, have the unfortunate flaw of requiring you to move one hand away from the keyboard onto the mouse, over and over again. It's very inefficient. Instead of the long journey to mouse, cursor, scroll bar, selection click, drag, release click and back to keyboard, one can take a shortcut.

Now, mouse clicks ARE useful when learning a new program; point-and-click's main intent is user friendliness. But powerhouse users keep their hands on the board.

Literally called keyboard shortcuts they are your key to speed. You probably know the three of the most popular examples:

Copy something (Command + C)
Paste it (Command + V)
Undo last action (Command + Z)

My examples are for a Mac system, but the concept is the same on all: achieve as many tasks as you can without touching the mouse.

How do learn about these secret keys? The easiest is to look in the menus. You can find keyboard equivalents next to the commands in the drop-down menus at the top of the screen. They are the seemingly Greek symbols, letters, and numbers noted in the right-hand column of the list. If a command is not followed by a shortcut combination, then a shortcut is not available or you have to explore the next option.

The second and most thorough way to find available shortcuts is to search the help menu of each software program you use, including the system. Search on the keyword "shortcut." Not only will you find a chart that divulges the key combinations for common tasks, most programs will allow you to build your own shortcuts in order to customize your routine.

I once worked at a company that produced product catalogs. We would lay out hundreds of pages of content and photos. The object was speed, otherwise the prices would change before the catalog got printed. The boss demanded we use keyboard shortcuts. At first I hated her for it, because it went against my reflexes, but once I retrained my brain, I could fly through a page at double speed. 

Years later, I became keenly aware of how tediously long it was taking me to produce just about anything. That's when I realized I had been back to my bad clicking habits. Although systems, software, and documents changed, the importance of shortcuts remained. I needed to retrain my brain once again.

Now, you will rarely hear this advice from me, whether I'm talking about hiking, working, or doing household chores. But today I say, "When doing the hefty work, take shortcuts."

by Ruth Heil
Writer's Update

Lyme disease is a horrific problem for folks who love the outdoors. I'd written about the issue in the past, such as when I informed the readers of Lehigh Valley Marketplace about ways to stay safe back in spring of 2014.

Today I am excited to announce that the New Haven Review has published my essay on the topic in its Winter 2015 Issue 017, this time allowing me to dig deeper into the emotional aspect of the current status of this growing epidemic.

Issue 017 has not yet been posted on the Review's website. Email me to request a scanned copy.

Don't be afraid to go outside. Learn the facts about Lyme and demand funding for further research.
This Month's Resource

Do you wish you had a Website or blog? Do you hate promoting the long URL your free service requires?

I recently changed the host of to a service that is  incorporated as a Benefit Corporation, a company that matches my people-planet-profit philosophy AND provides secure and reliable service. In order to achieve my needs at the best possible cost, I purchased a reseller package. What that means is I can resell some of my hosting space.

Space is limited to three sites, and I reserve the right to choose who gets to use the space. Contact me if your mission of helping people or planet needs an online presence. I'll even take you through the steps required to secure a domain name, develop a simple website, and get your material online in hopes that you also make a profit.

 Email me or call (215-234-0447) today.
"The greater our knowledge increases, the more
                                     our ignorance unfolds
."   --John F. Kennedy, Sept. 1962    
Ruth Heil, Author and Freelance Writer
The Write Beat | 215-234-0447 |  | 

Ruth Heil at The Write Beat | P.O. Box 12 | Green Lane | PA | 18054