Think back to the days of being a court reporting student. You dreamed of writing fast enough to be able to report. You took that dream and put it into action: you learned how to write, spent countless hours practicing and finally, you arrived at the finish line and were able to take your first job. Undoubtedly, over time, you’ve learned a lot and have been able to write faster and/or more accurately at times than you ever thought yourself capable of doing while in school!
Now think about editing in your CAT software. Have you dreamed of spending as little time as possible working on transcripts? If you haven’t dreamed about that, why not? Do you believe it’s too difficult? If you have, what have you done to make that dream come true? Think about the amount of time you spend editing a typical job. Think about the number of times you’ve complained about editing a difficult job. What could you learn and practice so that you can achieve the dream of spending far less time editing, the same way you eventually achieved your dream of writing accurately, faster and faster, until you became a reporter?
Just as you can’t just learn steno theory and instantly be able to write well enough to be a professional reporter; you can’t simply buy CAT software, take one training session and be instantly proficient in producing transcripts. You have to learn about all of the tools available in your CAT software and practice using them. But here’s the good news. It doesn’t take anywhere near as long to learn and adopt shortcuts in CAT software as it did to graduate to new speed levels in machine shorthand!
Taking a CAT software class or a one-on-one training session is a starting place, not a comprehensive solution. To become efficient and produce a quality transcript as quickly as possible requires that you pay attention to what slows you down and annoys you while editing (or hire a training agent to watch you edit and analyze what you could be doing more efficiently). Make a list of all of those possibilities where you can improve your editing speed and efficiency, and then ask an expert: what shortcut will make this particular task go faster? How can I learn it? Is it something I can read instructions for in Help or a Self-Study Guide? Is there a video I can watch? Is there an exercise or practice file I can use to help me figure it out? Would it be best to take an hour or two of training with a certified training agent?
In some cases, you probably already know that there is a feature that will solve your issue, but just haven’t learned how to use it. For example, if you are still taking notes on what page an examination begins, or where exhibits are marked for identification or received into evidence, or where there was a document request, or a certified question, you are probably already aware that an automatic indexing feature would make that process much faster and easier. You just need to invest the time to set it up or pay someone to help you set it up and learn how to use it. Perhaps you’re deleting and retyping text that you know you’ll use again, and you suspect you ought to be using some kind of global define instead, or that there’s a way to paste it from a clipboard instead of retyping. Perhaps you’re inserting the same text over and over because “it doesn’t take that long” instead of creating an EZ Text shortcut, Personal Global, or a Cat Scratch pane entry. Maybe you’re typing text instead of picking it from a list of suggestions. Maybe you’re doing the same series of commands and you know it would be wiser to have a macro.
In other cases, you may not know whether there is a shorter way to do something. Like whether there’s some type of guided prep process that might increase accuracy in translation and decrease editing time. Suppose there’s a way to add/change punctuation faster than the way you’re currently doing it. Maybe there’s a way to switch one word or phrase into another more quickly. Maybe you could fix that improperly formatted number either in translation or edit. Those spellings you’re fixing in edit – maybe there’s an easy way to write them so that they’re already stitched, or maybe there’s a way to stitch letters faster in edit. Maybe there’s a quick way to fix those word boundary issues so you can define them away rather than having to learn how to write them differently.
If you’ve read this blog with a little discomfort and have dismissed the idea of spending time learning features rather than just doing what you already know how to do; if you’re thinking, “What I do is good enough. I can manage just fine with what I know, it doesn’t take that long; I know enough to get by…” I want you to take a moment to decide whether “getting by” is really appropriate for you. “Good enough,” “managing” and/or “getting by” mean you’ll always spend more time working than is necessary. “Good enough” means forever giving up time you could spend enjoying the rest of your life. “Getting by” means more hours sitting in front of your computer screen putting out pages and having to pass up jobs and lose opportunities to take other, possibly more interesting jobs, or increase your income because you don’t have sufficient time to edit the jobs you’ve taken.
Frankly, I think you deserve better than that. Learning new features and shortcuts for processes is typically a lot easier than you anticipate; and one heck of a lot easier than practicing and practicing and practicing to write accurately at a new speed level! You could start saving seconds, then minutes, then hours right now. All it takes is just a fraction of that same desire and commitment that you invested when you committed to becoming a reporter!
Start making your “I need a shortcut for…” list today. Next, find out what shortcuts or features exist to make the first task on that list easier. If you can’t find it in CATalyst Help (F1) or the Support Help Desk (Alt+h, s); if you don’t see a Self-Study Guide for that feature (Alt+h, g) then post a question about what shortcut to learn at StenographHelp.Askbot.com. Then, learn how to use that first shortcut and begin using it in your next couple of jobs. Then, cross that item off your list and move on to the next item! Keep adding to your list as you notice additional tasks that take too long.
You’ll discover that you’re producing finished jobs a lot faster, and that you have more time, either to take more jobs or to enjoy more of life!