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The 12 Days of Giveaways: Day 5 – TextExpander

The 12 Days of Giveaways: Day 5 – TextExpander

    Another day, another Lifehack Giveaway!

    Hopefully, over the past few days you have seen that we here at Lifehack aren’t screwing around this holiday season; we are hooking you up with some of the best productivity and lifestyle apps and tools to help you better yourself in the coming year. And, boy oh, boy is today’s giveaway no different with some productivity wares from Smile Software.

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    Before we get to the new stuff, let’s first congratulate yesterday’s winner of the NerdFitness Rebel Fitness Guides, Mark Eldridge, with this inspirational health goal for 2012:

    My goal is to run the Marine Marathon in October with my 21 year old daughter.  I had been running for several years.  A couple of years ago my 20 year old daughter picked up the running bug saying I was her inspiration.  Since then she’s lost 30 pounds and just completed her first marathon.  A year and a half ago, I herniated a disk in my back so I’ve had to stay on the sidelines for a while. Now I need to lose 30 pounds. I’m just starting back and look forward to running with my girl.

    Mark, you just picked yourself up the three-pack of NerdFitness Rebel Fitness Guides. Now, get to work on those fitness goals for 2012. Congratulations!

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    Today’s Giveaway

    Smile Software creates some of the best productivity apps around for the Mac including one of the apps that I could never live without; TextExpander. If you don’t know what TextExpander is let me break it down for you; if you type a lot of stuff over and over again, and you want to save time doing it, TextExpander helps you accomplish that goal.

    TextExpander brings you a way to create custom “snippets” that create large portions of text, run scripts, insert images and rich text, etc. You can enter these snippets system-wide on your Mac making TextExpander one of the most time-saving apps I have ever used. Here are just some of the things you can do:

    • Create commonly used text pieces like email signatures, responses to commonly sent emails, blocks of code, “boiler-plate” text, etc.
    • Automatically fix commonly misspelled words
    • Create snippets that allow you to reposition your cursor after expanding some text. This is great for inserting a ‘<a href=””></a>’ element and then positioning the cursor between the quotes or the chevrons.
    • Run custom scripts for all you hackers out there
    • Sync snippets library with Dropbox to use with TextExpander Touch on your iDevice
    • Many more things that you will come up with day in and day out

    I can’t live without TextExpander and two Lifehack readers can find out what I mean by winning one of the two free licenses to TextExpander from Smile Software. Remember, TextExpander is for Mac only.

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    By the way, why don’t you check out Smile on Facebook or follow them on Twitter?

    How to Enter

    In order to enter to win a license of TextExpander, you need to leave a comment below or on our Facebook fan page that answers the following:

    “What text expansion or automation from TextExpander will save you the most time and why?”

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    Leaving a comment on both our Facebook fan page and here at Lifehack.org will get you 2 entries, but you need to give us two TextExpander time-savers – no copying and pasting!

    The Fine Print

    Employees of Smile and of Stepcase (including current independent contractors of both) are not eligible for this contest. The two winning entries will be judged by the Stepcase Lifehack editing team and winners will be notified on the platform in which their winning entry was placed (either on the Lifehack.org Facebook wall or by email through our commenting system here the website). For those entering the contest with a comment on Lifehack.org, in order to be considered eligible, you MUST leave a contact email when leaving a comment (it’s the only way we’ll know how to contact you). Entries must be submitted by 10 am Eastern the following weekday and winners will be chosen by 12 pm Eastern time on the same day. The winner will be announced the same day on Lifehack.org, and will be notified beforehand.

    Good luck!

    More by this author

    CM Smith

    A technologist and writer who shares advice on personal productivity, creativity and how to use technology to get things done.

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    Last Updated on July 10, 2020

    The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

    The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

    Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

    Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

    The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

    Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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    Program Your Own Algorithms

    Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

    Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

    By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

    How to Form a Ritual

    I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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    Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

    1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
    2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
    3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
    4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

    Ways to Use a Ritual

    Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

    1. Waking Up

    Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

    2. Web Usage

    How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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    3. Reading

    How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

    4. Friendliness

    Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

    5. Working

    One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

    6. Going to the gym

    If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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    7. Exercise

    Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

    8. Sleeping

    Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

    8. Weekly Reviews

    The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

    Final Thoughts

    We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

    More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

     

    Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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