Transcription Power Tool #3 : WorkRave Pacing Program

 

workrave_screenshot

WorkRave Work Pacing and Repetitive Strain Illness (RSI) Management Tool

 

Workrave ( http://www.workrave.org ) is an EXCELLENT, totally FREE and little open source freeware software application which provides some highly valuable computer work pacing features, as well as regularly timed short, and longer, work break reminders, along with some helpful exercises to do during those breaks to counteract the risk of RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury). Workrave is available as a TOTALLY free download at :

 

http://www.workrave.org/download/

 

The program is easy to use, and works on Windows, Mac AND LINUX operating systems. Please feel free to go ahead and download, install, and play around with the program as soon as you can, to reap the benefits immediately. I ASSURE you that you will see a noticeable increase in your productivity just in your first few hours of integrating this excellent tool into your daily workflow.

 

For such an essentially simple program this tool provides some highly valuable time and effort management functions, so that your overall productivity will increase NOTICEABLY, while simultaneously decreasing the productivity obstacles presented by repetitive, monotonous bodily and mental activities which create stress – and even potential long term illness- if not managed  over extended periods of time. Although the standard definition of Repetitve Strain Illness focuses mainly on PHYSICALLY strainful, repetitive activity, any worker who heavily uses their computer for several hours per day in order to do important tasks knows that the MENTALLY strenuous and/or menial activities are EQUALLY taxing on the whole mind-body system – especially because the mind and body are so interconnected – and so for the purposes of this analysis as it relates primarily to computer teleworkers (and transcriptionists/proofeaders specifically), Repetitive Strain Injuries in this discussion will include mental activities as well physical ones.

 

For teleworkers, some significant physical repetitive strain producing activities include : eye strain resulting from staring at the computer screen for long periods of time, back pain resulting from sitting up for long periods, and joint pain commonly in the fingers, wrists, arms, neck and/or back areas, resulting primarily from long periods of stationary sitting, posture-maintaining, and typing and mouse activities. Some of the major mentally straining activities include: difficulty concentrating, anxiety resulting from mental exhaustion, noticeable decrease in cognitive ability, and hyper-aroused nervous system states (including moodiness, agitation, insomnia, etc.). These often result from enduring long periods of sustained, focused mental attention on more single, narrowed subject matter, fine textual details, and repetitive tasks. These mental ailments develop primarily due to a failure to take adequate rest breaks away from the computer to let the mind rest and recuperate. Just as a body builder experiences the maximum physical gains by integrating adequate rest periods into their training routine, so the teleworker gains similar benefits from achieving a proper balance of activity and rest.

 

Some of the more technical names for of the most common Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI’s) include : Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Information Overload, Pressure/Stress Headaches, hyper-arousal induced insomnia, etc. More detailed information and examples of these conditions and their causes can be found here :

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Repetitive_strain_injury

 

And a more in-depth analysis of the occupational risk factors for teleworkers is well examined here :

 

Working From Home Can Sabotage Your Health

http://www.techtimes.com/articles/121097/20160104/working-from-home-can-sabotage-your-health-ways-telecommuting-can-make-you-ill.htm

 

Luckily, Workrave addresses many of the most significant telecommuter health issue by providing some valuable core features which are simple to execute, yet highly effective in helping to manage and minimize the manifestation and development of these Repetitive Strain Injuries. Plus, it does so in a way which, when properly used, is quite non-intrusive, and highly customizable based on the unique physical and mental needs of the individual worker.

 

The most useful features of the program can probably be best understood through actual case study examples of the typical daily workflow of the teleworker (in this case, the transcriber/proofreader). To best achieve this I will use my own, personal daily workflow as an example here, and show how the Workrave tool is integrated so easily and effectively with the most common workflow tasks of teleworkers (and even computer workers) in general.

 

Let’s say on a typical day I end up doing eight full hours of computer work on various tasks. Upon waking in the morning I usually start working on one of my private client transcription/proofreading projects. I will load my transcription software, continue from where I left off last on the transcription or proofread. I have found that working in 15 minutes chunks is ideal for the specific nature and needs of my body and mind. That is, I will usually transcribe or proofread for 15 minutes, and then either switch things up significantly to consuming some work-related (or non-work related) audio, video or textual resources (ex. YouTube videos, podcasts, web articles, etc.) If my energy levels are further down I can choose the third alternative option of completely disengaging from physical and mental work activity, and instead spend the next 15 minute chunk of time doing some menial daily chores (ex. cleaning, meditating, walking around the room or yard, etc.) So, the three 15 time slots include : 15 minutes of work-related computer work, 15 minutes of less  (or non) – computer related content consumption, or 15 minutes of physical activity which does not involved intense mental activity. The more you understand the ideal mixtures of task sessions which are unique to YOU, the sooner you can most appropriately customize the WorkRave program scheduling features to most effectively assist you in sticking to the specific organization of activity program you choose.

 

So, continuing to build upon the above example, I go into the WorkRave settings area and set the micro-break intervals to 15 minutes. This means that every 15 minutes a “break screen” pops up and stops any activity on the machine (ex. Keyboard and mouse input, etc.) I also program the DURATION of these microbreaks to be 30 seconds. In this way, after every 15 chuck of my work the program forces me to AT LEAST take 30 seconds to stop what I am doing, take a deep breath, rest, and clear my mind in order to best plan for the next 15 minutes activity chunk. After this first microbreak I move into the first alternative task (let’s say watching an interesting YouTube tutorial video on one of the new software programs I am learning and planning to integrate into my arsenal of work tools). The MORE INTERESTING you make this second task (specially relating the task to the first (and also) third task session), the more productivity benefits you will get from switching and pacing the tasks. IDEALLY, the most effective mix of tasks includes a logical component to this transition. For instance, if you are specifically focusing on improving your use of punctuation during your proofreading tasks then switching to watching an interesting YouTube video related to some aspect of proofreading will provide a nice repetition and reinforcement component to your activities (and self-training) schedule. The key is to try and consume resources which are interesting, motivating, and applicable as quickly as possible into your workflow. By doing this you are able to apply (and build) the knowledge and skills you are absorbing during the different task sessions, in real-time, and the continuous, tangible improvement in your productivity which results from this will further motivate you to pace and organize your efforts properly, using SEVERAL tools, including WorkRave.

 

After the second 15 minute task, the next micro-break box pops up and I can then rest for 30 seconds while I also decide if it is most appropriate to switch back to the first (active project work) activity session, or if I feel that my body and mind are becoming more drained of energy and focus I can choose to switch to the third task session, which involves some physical activity without mental activity. In this case I may spend the third 15 minute activity session doing some silent meditation, or giving the kitchen or bathroom a routine 15 minute clean, I may prepare some food (which, in my specific case, general consists of a light, liquid and raw fruits and vegetables based diet. I could, for instance, brew a pot of one of my favorite, and most appropriate types of Chinese tea which I drink daily. While this is another subject worth elaborating on elsewhere (when I talk about proper nutrition for the teleworker), I find that taking a 15 minute break to drink a pot of high quality tea (specifically a black or Puerh category tea if I need more energy, and a green, white, or herbal tea in the evening when I am in the process of “coming down”) is a HUGE boon to my productivity AND the overall health of my body. Once the 15 minute tea drinking activity session finishes, the third micro-break box pops up on the screen. Actually, after the third session it is really best to schedule one of the longer breaks (which include the guided exercise activities). So, in this example I will program one of the long breaks every 45 minutes – that is, after I complete the full round of the three main 15 minute activity sessions.

 

Aside from time the interval (45 minutes in this case) between breaks you can also customize the DURATION of the longer breaks. Again, this proper duration will be unique to your body and mind. I find that after the three 15 minute microbreaks, a good 5 to 10 minute long break is appropriate to really properly recuperate from the past hour of heavy activity. For a few minutes at the beginning of the longer break the program provides you with some guided examples of some common, and effective, basic exercises that you can perform along with the program’s timer. These exercises are focuses on addressing the most common physical Repetitive Strain Injuries, and range from eye exercises to stretching exercises for various high use body parts. The nice thing is that you have the option to follow the exercises provided, and/or replace or add some of your own preferred exercises. I like to try to AT LEAST follow the provided exercises, and then in the remaining non-activity time, where the program stops providing exercises and simply let’s the break timer run, I add a few of my own good ones – mainly consisting of some powerful yoga and Chi Gong stretching, and movement exercises. I may also take some of this remaining time to cease all physical and mental activity by lying on my bed with eyes closed..

 

Once the longer break is completed you will usually feel well rested, and ready to run through the cycle again – depending, of course, on how many cycles you have already completed. With this specific routine you can get quite a lot of work done in an eight hour daily work session. The program also has a customizable “daily limit” timer. This box will pop up to remind you that you have reached your self-estimated overall time-work threshold for the day. If you have more accurately customized the time interval on this feature you may find this a refreshing notification and conclusion of your workday, and you will likely be happy to shut down your work activities and computer for the remainder of the day. However, if you decide (for a variety of possible reasons, including approaching deadlines, glut of work, compulsive tendencies, etc.) to do some additional work, you have the option to “cancel” this daily work reminder. If you do this, however, it IS recommended that in the additional work time you perform for the day you extend the frequency and duration of micro and longer breaks. As some friendly advice from someone who suffers from SEVERE insomnia, plus internet addiction, and other goodies – which is only exacerbated by the constant hyper-arousal induced by above the eight hour threshold of daily computer work, often even reaching up into the double-digits —) yikes – I can tell you from experience that as you endure more hours it become increasingly important to include a pacing mechanism which gradually slows down your physical and mental activity so that when you finally conclude the day’s work your body and mind will be in as an ideal of a state as possible to facilitate sleep and recovery. Ultimately, you want to customize your pacing schedule so that, with the help of the WorkRave program features, you are able to slowly wind down to a soft conclusion of activity which will make it easier for you body and mind to transition to the lower level of brainwave  activity to allow you to get the proper amount and quality of sleep required to maintain consistent productivity over days, weeks, and months. Pacing is a VITAL component to computer-based telework and non-telework. If you can achieve a high level of control over your energy exertion you will be able to maximize the overall results of your effort. If you CAN’T achieve this control then you will tend to experience a progressively increasing level of physical and mental exhaustion which can very likely develop into more serious,  longer term injuries over your extended work periods of days, weeks, months, and beyond.

 

Developing good pacing habits is therefore a vital component to telework, and one which ultimately translates into better health, higher productivity and income earning potential. People who are able to properly pace themselves are able to get more work done with less effort, and experience less health issues which have a tendency to have a detrimental effects on productivity in the short and the long term. This is why I STRONGLY suggest using a simple, yet powerful – and FREE – program like WorkRave as a fundamental tool in your teleworker tool kit.

 

One of the challenges people face when using a program like WorkRave is that you may sometimes find that both the micro and longer breaks feel like they are a bit intrusive, and distracting, to your efforts. However, I find that if in the times when I have those feelings it is very helpful to force myself to take the break, and then practice some meditation on those negative feelings which the rest break alerts trigger in me. I sit or lie down on my floor or the bed, and with my eyes closed allow the feelings to arise naturally and without trying to stop them. Then I examine and reflect on the feelings and sensations to try and figure out the deeper force driving them.. For instance, I ask myself WHY I feel frustrated by the break? Is it simply because I want to get more work done, but by doing so I would overextend myself? I ponder whether or not the break is actually HELPING to increase my productivity and comfort level, Even though at the time of the break I may have negative feelings what I have found is that, looking back in hindsight, it is most often the case that even though I had to endure some frustration due to the interruptive nature of the breaks, they did INDEED successfully serve the purpose of increasing my productivity. In addition, the program forces me, in a healthy way, to confront my own mental processed (and neuroses, or maybe more accurately, demons) which cause me to put up the resistance. A major benefit of this analysis  is that it helps you to begin to gain a better understanding of the destructive ways in which your impulses, compulsions, and counterproductive thought patterns contribute to improper pacing. So in the end this program also has the potential to help you change your pacing routine by changing the underlying destructive psychological mechanisms which have a tendency to force you to push body and mind beyond their limits, and ultimately sabotage your potential maximum productivity.

 

On a more practical level, one of the first things you can do if you find, through analysis, yourself feeling justifiably frustrated at the pacing of the breaks is to simply increase the time interval between them. You do this in the setting section of the program. Since everyone has unique physical and mental needs, once you figure out and customize your own proper individual pacing schedule you actually will be more welcoming of the breaks, accepting them as a necessary – albeit somewhat frustrating – tool, which helps you bypass your own self-destructive tendencies, and just start accepting that the breaks are indeed ultimately necessary for, and effective at, producing a significant increase to your productivity. Plus, the various metrics you can apply to judge this increase in productivity (for example, the number of total increase in transcription/proofreading output time ( based on a word count), an increase in income due to the increase in productivity), etc. will highly motivate you to appreciate and take full advantage of such a valuable tool as WorkRave. You will naturally accept the automated pacing schedule provided by the program.and gain maximum benefits from the breaks, and experience a general  diminishing need to cancel or postpone them. Once you reach this milestone, you KNOW that you are making real progress, and ultimately the improvement in pacing ability that you develop from regular use of this program will naturally transfer into the pacing of activities in other areas of your life (ex. Better organizing and pacing plans to achieve dietary goals, serious exercise routines, general career and life planning, etc. Ultimately, pacing is a valuable life skill to master.

 

Well, quite a lot has been said in this post about a nifty freeware program which may APPEAR on first glance to be quite simple and insignificant. However,us free-thinking, smart people know that the most profound,  influential – and often revolutionary – philosophers and innovators in history have expressed the common important opinion along the lines that the best ideas and inventions are those which are the simplest. Taking the wise words of one such great thinker, Albert Einstein, “Out of clutter, find simplicity. From discord, find harmony. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”

So it is on this enlightening final note that will I put some closure on this rather comprehensive, and hopefully helpful, reviews of the WorkRave productivity enhancement application. It is my sincere hope that any reader of this post will experience the significant benefits of integrating this tool into their work routine, and as a result experience an increase in productivity, income – and most importantly – the most valuable gift of increased self-awareness.

 

If you do try out the program please feel free to send your comments (both positive and negative) so that all readers of this blog can benefit, as well as sharing this post with anyone who you believe will benefit from the information.

 

Happy Transcribing,

@TranscriptJunky

https://twitter.com/TranscriptJunky

 

 

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Free Transcript Project : #7

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Source video
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Title : “Evernote Tips : The 11 Amazing Features That Make Using Evernote So Freaking Awesome”

URL : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ce2_gWZHBIs

Organization         : “Evernote Scott” :
Web Site                 : http://www.scottbradley.name/
YouTube Channel : https://www.youtube.com/user/EvernoteScott 

Host                        : Scott Bradley
Contact                  :  contact@scottbradley.name

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Transcript
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Scott Bradley : Hello everybody. This is Scott Bradley from the web site scottbradley.name . In this video I’m going to share with you the ten features that make Evernote massively powerful as a tool to use in your daily life – either as an entrepreneur, or as a busy professional. If you haven’t already created your account I recommend that you do so. All you have to do is go to Evernote.com, and in the top right-hand corner go through the prompts to create your account with your username and what-not. I’m going to show you – this is the web-based version of the application – but as you know there is also a Mac [offline] based version of the application, and I will be showing you a couple of the features that you’re able to have in the [offline] application compared to the web application. So, I’m going to start with the web-app features and then I’m going to move right into the application features – and I do believe they have it for PC as well as Mac.

So, within Evernote, when you get your account the inside of Evernote is going to look like this. You’re  going to have a left-hand panel that is going to show “notebooks” and “tags”. You’re going to have this column here which will basically show the “notes” within each “notebook”. Then over here is basically where the “note” content is. So, if you’re new to Evernote you’re going to find out that the way that the content and the organization of the actual application is, you have your “notebooks” at the top, your “notes” within the “notebook” – you’ll be able to select – and then content within each “note” within each “notebook”. So, I know that may be a little confusing, but I want to make it clear for you by going through each of the features.

So, within Evernote – again, when you sign in, this is what it looks like. So the very first feature that I want to show you is that you can crete a series of notebooks – an unlimited amount of notebooks within Evernote – and I’m going to show you why that is valuable. So in here, to create a notebook, you’re going to come here and click this downward arrow and click “new notebook” – and we’re just going to call it “test”. Then, the best thing about creating notebooks, is that you can create “notes” within notebooks. So as you can see here in the top right-hand corner, you have a new note, and we’re just going to title it “test” and “a test” as the note content. Then you’re going to click “done”. Now as you can see here, within the “test” notebook there was a new “test” [note] that was created, and then you have the word “test” within the note content. The best thing about this is that you can go in here and actually add more text and click “done”, and you have your notes. So imagine in each notebook you can have an unlimited amount of notes that are in this notebook, in and of itself.

So, that moves me to the next feature I’m going to show – feature #2. Basically, I’m going to show you that you can [do] what’s called “stacking” notebooks. So, for instance, say you have a series of notebooks that you want to group under one specific category, you can do that in Evernote very, very easily. The way to do that – again, I’m just going to create a brand new notebook… “test 2”. So as you can see here I have “test” and “test 2” notebooks. What I want to do is, say for instance, both of these notebooks are different types of food, and I want to create a super-notebook and call that “food notes’, and this one would probably be “Japanese” and this one would be “Chinese”. I’m just using that as an example. You can use it the way you want, but I’m just showing you how to work it. So, what you do to create a stack is you click the notebook, and then you drag it on top of “test 2”, and then you let go of your mouse. Then you name your stack – we’re going to do “food types” and “save”. So as you can see here, it created a super-notebook and “sub-notebooks” under that super-notebook. And the thing is that you can make it go big, make it go small, and all that good stuff. It’s just a really, great feature that makes Evernote so awesome, because you can really organize lots of information. In all of the videos I create here on the YouTube channel you will see that this is really valuable. So, “stacks” is the second thing.

The third thing that I want to show you – and again, we’re going to go back to that one place with the note, and I’m going to “refresh” here. All right, so the next feature that I want to show you is what are called “tags”. So, depending on how your brain works – my brain works differently than yours, obviously – but the next thing I want to show you is what tags are, and why they are valuable. So, in the framework you have the “notebook”, you have the “note” within the notebook, and you have the content of the note within the notebook. What’s great is that the tags allow you to create one more type of filtering mechanism within your Evernote notebook in being effective in finding what you need, or using information in a strategic way to accomplish goals and results and all of that stuff. So, I’m going to show you how to do that within the web notebook – or the web-based application. So all you have to do is come up here and click “edit”. As you can see here there are “alt add” tags. So what you do is click on that, and what we’re going to do is “test tag”. Once you’re done with that, click “off”, press “done”, and as you can see here there’s a tag called “test tag”. Now, I’m going to refresh to show you why that’s valuable. If you notice in the left hand column – you know we have all of our notebooks up here – and in the bottom left-hand corner we have our “tags”. So say, for instance, you have hundreds of thousands of notes in here, and they’re all tagged appropriately and what-not. If you click up here on “All Notes” – which basically, again, shows you all of the notes you have – and this Evernote note is what shows up immediately when you first sign in. Actually, instead of 10 features I’m going to show you 11 features. I just now realized that I forgot one, so I’m going to explain what the “web clipper” is at the very end. Let me write that down here… okay. So, the best thing about tags is that if you select that the “All Notebook” notebook, and you press “test tag”, it will only pull up the notes that are tagged with that actual tag that you created. So, you can image – depending on how your brain works, and depending on the type of information and certain things that you’re integrating into your life – when using this application, you’ll be able to use tags effectively. Again, in all of these videos I am creating for you I will show you certain ways to leverage tags as you integrate Evernote into your life to be more effective as an entrepreneur or a busy professional.

All right. The next thing I want to show you which makes Evernote so awesome – as I am a massive proponent of Evernote – is the “search” feature. Again, this is another filtering mechanism to help you find the information you need in a quick, efficient way. So, I’m just going to show you how it works. Typically, when I do searches with in my Evernote, what I make sure I first do is click “All Notes” at the top, and as you see here there’s a search bar. So say, for instance, we want to find the note that says “test” in it, all that you have to do is go “test”, then “search”, and boom – there it is. So it pulls up notes within notebooks with the words that you’re searching for. And again, from a filtering mechanism like, “Oh, I know I wrote that down in Evernote, but I just don’t know where it is.” the search feature really helps you be effective in finding that information when you need it most. So that’s really good.

The next feature which I’m going to show you, which is feature number – let’s see… one… two… three… four… five… on our list – is the ability to share notes with people via a link. Whether you want to share it in Facebook, share in Twitter, share it in email – this is a really great feature that, depending on how you use it – or depending on how you want to use it – you do have this option. So, I’m just going to show you how to do that really quick. So, I’m going to go back to our “test one” notebook for this actual note, and I’m going to show you how to do it. It’s really, really simple. On the top right corner you’re going to see the “share” button with a downward arrow. Then there’s this menu that pops up. What you’re going to do is you’re going to click “link”, and it’s going to give you this link in this note URL. So, I’m going to do “COMMAND + C” on my Apple, or if you’re on a PC you want to do “CONTROL + C” to copy it, and then you’re going to close, and as you can see here this is now shared, and so if I open up a new window and press “CONTROL + V” – which copies it – this is an actual public-based note that I can share via email. If I want to throw it into Facebook, or I want to throw it into Twitter you do have that option – which is a really, really great feature within Evernote that allows you to use it in a myriad of ways dependent on what your needs are as a busy professional or an entrepreneur. So, I really like this feature. Now, if you wanted turn the sharing off of a specific note note, all you need to do is come up here, press “share” and then press “stop sharing” and boom, you’re done. So you can turn it on, you can turn it off – depending on what you need to do – it’s really effective. So I’m sure your brain is swirling with ideas right now, but I’m going to keep going.

So the next feature on our list [is] as you can share “notes”, you can also share “notebooks” – which is another great feature within Evernote if you’re doing projects with teams that are remote. Whether your friend is in New York and you have another friend in Vienna, and another friend in Texas and you’re in California, you can share notebooks and create an entire project and manage a lot of stuff within one notebook within Evernote, which again is a really valuable thing. So, I’m going to show you how to do that. Again, very similarly to sharing individual notes, you’re going to do the same exact thing. So just make sure that the notebook you want to share is highlighted. Then in the top right-hand corner you’re going to see the share button, and it says “share notebooks”. So you share the notebook, and then you basically select which one you want to start sharing and then it’s going to ask you, “What are the emails of the people you want to share this with?” Then it will send them the invited via email and then they can follow the process of accepting the shared notebook. Very, very cool feature if you are managing virtual teams, or your team is virtual. Whatever it is that you do it’s really effective. So, I really like that feature as well.

Now, another feature that makes Evernote so awesome is that, as you all know, we all have an email account. We all have an email client that we’re using, whether it’s Gmail or Macmail or Outlook or Hotmail, or whatever. One great, awesome thing about Evernote is that you can actually send stuff into Evernote via an email address. When you sign up for your Evernote account you’re going to sign in with two notebooks already created. You’re going to have an “All Notes”, which is standard – you can’t delete this notebook. You’re also going to have another notebook with a little star next to it. Now, I’ve renamed this notebook “Inbox”. I don’t exactly remember its title, but the fact that it has the star, that becomes what’s called your “default notebook”. [This] basically means that anything you send into Evernote is going to land within this notebook, which again is just the way Evernote works. I’m going to show you how to find that email address so you can start sending good stuff into your Evernote inbox. So, the way to do that is really simple. You come up into the top right-hand corner and you see your username. What you want to do is click that username, and you’re going to see “settings”. You want to click “settings”. And as you can see here, it says, “Email notes to :”, and it gives you this really strange, weird email address. So, basically the way that works is – I’m going to go to my email account here really quick. If I have a note that I want to send in, or I get an email from somebody that I want to send into my Evernote, all that I do is put up the message, or I press the “forward” button, and type that, and boom – that’s in my Evernote email. So anything that I get that I want to save, but I don’t necessarliy want to delete from my Evernote inbox, I can forward it on into the Evernote account, which you can imagine the organization you can create within that for stuff that you want to save but you don’t want to keep in your inbox because you want to keep your inbox clean. There are various uses for this. It’s really, really effective for organizaing and staying on top of your life to get more done in less time to be more productive and have greater peace of mind – which is reallymy reason for using Evernote in my life, along with a couple of other systems that I’ve set up for myself. I may get into those in later videos depending on how this content is received by you guys. So, again , email into Evernote is the feature that I just went over.

For the most part, the last feature that you can integrate into Evernote in the web-based version is the “web clipper”. What the web clipper is is a plug-in that you can put into your browser that allows you to save any types of pages that you come across online. So, I’m sure that – this is in Chrome – and I’m sure that once you install the web clipper – I personally don’t use it myself, if I need something I’ll take a screenshot of it and throw it into Evernote as an attachment. But, if you want to save web-based stuff, what you want to do is download the web clipper, and I’m sure the way that Chrome is set up it would probably show up in the top right-hand corner, and it will probably look like the elephant logo of the Evernote thing. So say you go to a web site, you like what you see, you press the Evernote web clipper, you title the note, you may tag the note if you want to, put a little bit more content, and then you press “send into my Evernote”. Then more likely than not it will come in to your default notebook, which then – once it is there – you cab figure out how you want to process it from that point, which is really, really great.

So with all that being said, this is the web-based version of the different features that make Evernote really popular, and what I really love to use it for. Now what I’m going to show you is when you decide to download the application either for Mac or PC, I’m going to show you a couple of more features that make Evernote powerful. So I highly recommend if you are able to [that you] download the application on your computer, because you get more functionality and more features that I’m going to go over. There are three features that make it even better, in my opinion. So, again I’ve created this blank notebook and here’s my Evernote, and I’m going to go into all of these other notebooks and how I use them in other videos, but for the sake of the example I want to show you the other valuable things that can be done in the actual application when you download it.

So there are three specific things. The very first thing is that when you edit notes you can add text, you can click off, and then you click it in and you can add text again. Now, I don’t know if that is really a feature, but you don’t always have to be pressing “edit -> done”. It just a convenience thing in and of itself.

But the first thing I want to show you for the first feature is that you can add in audio clips – which is awesome. So, if you can see here at the top of this bar – which is the editing bar – you’re able to have this little microphone. It says “record audio”. So if I wanted to record a short audio clip – like if I get an idea, or something I just want to throw in and put down – all I have to do is press this little audio thing, press the “record” button, and as you can see it’s recording my voice as I’m talking. You press “record”, and we’re just going to test it here. “Testing… testing… one…two…three”. Save it. Boom. Then there’s the audio for you to use, and as you can see here it shows that there’s an audio note within this. It’s awesome. So that’s the first feature I wanted to show you within the actual application.

The second feature is, say you go to a networking event and you get a slew of business cards. Then you come home, you pull out the ones that you want, you throw away the ones that you don’t. But you don’t want to just pull the ones that you want and throw them on the desk. You want to actually have them someplace that where you can find them easily. Another great thing is that if you look up here there’s something that kind of looks like the “Picasso” logo from Google, for their picture application – their web-based picture platform. So basically this says “Take a snapshot.” So, for instance, say you have those business cards and you have them in Evernote, and you want them to be searchable. You can click “snapshop” – and I have an Apple so I have a camera right on the top of my screen. So I can take a snapshot of that business card, and once that picture is in there then it even recognizes the text. So say, for instance, you knew that you met a “John” who was a graphic designer at an event, and you wanted to pull his information up and give him a call because you needed his services. You can go in, click “All Notebooks”, and then the search bar for me is up here. I can press the word John, and all the notes with the word “John” in it, as well as the pictures with the word “John” on it will be pulled up. So you can do that for pictures, you cac do that for information. Whatever it is that works for you, you can use it for that, which is really valuable.

Now the final feature that I want to show you is that you can actually also add attachments into Evernote, within each note. So as you can see here, there’s a little paperclip, which is “attach a file”. The best thing is that you can actually either click and “drag and drop” into these notes to drop your stuff, or you can use the Evernote “web clipper”. So if you have lots of different files for different clients you’re dealing with, or you just like to save pictures, and you want to create a notebook of pictures within your Evernote as a notebook. So, kind of, th structure you have of a “pictures” notebook, and then within each note you have a picture, and then within each note’s note you have content. You can also click “drag and drop”. For me – as a copywriter, a marketer, and an entrepreneur – I like to take pictures of ad copy and clip, drag, and drop and put it in my “swipe” file. I’m going to show you in one of later videos within this channel how I do that really effectively.

So this concludes the video of all the great, amazing features that makes Evernote completely and incredibly awesome for entrepreneurs, busy professionals, and people who love to be organized and love to be on top of the ball. In the other videos I’m going to go through some more amazing stuff. So be sure to check out my channel. This is Scott Bradley from http://www.scottbradley.name . I hope you got a lot of value out of this, and I look forward to hearing your feedback, so please do leave your comments below. All right, have agreat rest of your day and I’ll talk to you soon.

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Feel free to donate some Bitcoin to support the research and writing effort of this blog.

Donate some Bitcoin to support the research and writing effort of this blog.

Day 12 : Pacing Is The Key To Success For The Freelance Transcriptionist

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Feel Free to Choose A Sub-Section of this Post
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1. Random Thoughts on Transcription and Non-Transcription Related Issues
2. Daily Progress – Research Findings, Tasks and Skills Development

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Random Thoughts on Transcription and Non-Transcription Related Issues

Let’s face it, folks – we are drowning in a sea of information these days, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep up with it all and attain some sort of balance of intake, processing and utilization. Entire books have now been written arguing that “mental illnesses” such as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) are more the result of the inability of our brains to adjust to the barrage of incoming data than the biochemical abnormalities which have been discovered through research so far :

ADHD: Is Our Information Culture The Cause?
http://huff.to/1ykiCOV

As research in the scientific field of epigenetics discovers increasing evidence that the environment plays a very significant role in biological processes as fundamental as the effect of stress in altering DNA and transmitting those alterations to future generations, it is becoming ever more important to account for, and manage, the various environment factors which effect us in our daily lives. The amount, kind, and quality of information we consume, the “downtime” we allow for our bodies and minds to rest and digest that information, and the strategies by which we maximize our assimilation of information are becoming crucial issue for survival in the digital age. Just as building cardiovascular and muscular/strength via exercise requires a proper balance of rest and exertion, so too does the building and maintenance of our mental processes. Overloading the neural circuits with information is equivalent to running well beyond your distance/speed limits, or lifting weights which are too heavy for your muscular-skeletal system to handle.

Two of the most important and effective remedies to this problem are : organization and pacing.

Through the process of organization you are able to break down the mass of incoming information into manageable units, and then through pacing you create an ideal pace of intake/processing of that information so that you assimilate and utilize the maximum amount of it.

In the excellent book “The Overflowing Brain – Information Overload and the Limits of Working Memory” neuroscientist Trokel Klinberg examines in great detail the nature and limits of working memory. Like the RAM of a computer, the working memory is the neurochemical entity which holds information temporarily before selective bits are integrated into the long term storage memory. Just like in a computer, if the RAM memory is not large enough the computer can freeze up if the user forces too much information to be processed relative to the RAM capacity. This will take the form of a web browser crashing if you have too many tabs open simultaneously, or a digital imaging program seizing if you initiate too many processes in a short period of time. In the same way, our working memory malfunctions when we overload it. The human brain’s equivalent t the computer is a decrease (to the ultimate point of virtual inability) to process additional information, or a decrease in concentration/attention when the information processesing capacity threshold is exceeded. This is known as “information overload”, and it is a growing epidemic in the modern digital age, with research showing that the general limit of attention span in people is decreasing.

So, since this major issue of information overload is becoming a growing concern for people in general, it would only make sense that for those of us who work with information on a daily basis it is even more important to implement effective strategies to control the amount of information exposure and rate of processing that information in order to achieve adequate mental balance and minimize mental stress – which is, of course, directly connected to physical stress – as mental processes are biochemical in nature, just as all other bodily processes. A clear example of this connection between the mental physical bodies relates to nutrition. The brain – like every other organ in the body -runs on the nutrients we consume. In fact, the brain has an very high metabolic rate relative to all other organs, and so an inadequate intake of nutrients to balance mental exertion results in all sorts of dysfunction and inadequate function. Ranging from diminished attention span, cognitive deficits, anxiety, depression, and the most extreme symptoms of psychosis in severe cases of sleep deprivation (or even extreme mental overexertion) it is clear that proper control of mental exertion, along with adequate rest and nutrition is a serious health concern.

Incidentally, one of the most important forms of nutrient for the brain is dietary fat (lipids) – especially the fatty acids such as Omega-3 and Omega-6,.  After all, the brain tissue itself is essential composed of lipids and cholesterol. Studies have found that general deficiencies in the various forms of dietary fat result in decreased cognitive ability, memory problems, mood instability, and various other issues which effect mental performance and overall health. In a more extreme case, a study was done with a prison population which found that dietary fatty acid supplementation decreased the level of inmate violence significantly. Other studies have found a significant therapeutic effect of coconut oil on Alzheimer’s disease symptoms. So, the next time you are feeling mentally fatigued try taking a few tablespoons of olive oil, or have a few eggs.

In order to not go too far off on a tangent, let me bring this discussion back to the issue of the two fundamental factors of organization and pacing as the main keys to success for online telework – whether that be transcription, editing, writing, data entry, etc. Proper pacing requires that you allow your brain the proper nutrients and rest periods so that it can process the information you have taken into it and build new neural connections (including memory) in response to this input. The brain can’t do that if it is being overworked, not given enough downtime (in the form of rest, sleep, or even relaxing recreational activity) and/or if the proper nutrients – which are the materials which actually build the neural connections) are not consumed in proper amounts.

You could argue that the most logical method to create the proper strategy of organization and pacing would be to start developing the organization part first. It would be possible to do this, but I would argue that by first assessing your pacing needs, you will have a better idea of the limits and needs of your mind and body, and can thus build a more appropriate organizational structure around that. For instance, if you are a person who suffers from some degree of insomnia it will be difficult to create a more highly structured organizational plan if your sleep schedule is erratic. It will be difficult for you to stick to that strict routine. I can attest to this first hand, as I suffer from severe chronic insomnia – and trust me – it is something which MUST be accounted for in your organization plan.

So, once you have assessed your pacing needs you can begin to assess the sources and amount of information which is available for you to use to expand your knowledge of the transcription industry, job skills and tools and people/organizations to potentially connect with to further your efforts. For instance, your pacing assessment will give you an idea of how much time per day you can dedicate to taking in new information and experimenting with and practicing the new skills you have gained through your research. You should break the total time down into the two major categories of “research” and “skills implementation”. You can also add a third category such as “free experimentation”, where you will basically just browse through various resources in a more relaxed, unstructured manner (for example. you may enter a new transcription-related search term into a search engine and just follow the results wherever they lead). This adds a more fun, experimental component to the research, but is also important because it is very likely to produce some valuable new information and resources that you can then integrate into your more structured research. For instance, I often enter new terms (especially transcription-related products and software) into the YouTube search engine and discover some very informative videos which open a new avenue to research (and skills expansion) into my overall development process. One such extremely valuable software program I discovered in this way is the Evernote organization application. I will be writing an entire post about this amazing piece of software genius in a future post, but for now here is a great YouTube channel by mentor Evernote Scott . A great video to start with is the Evernote Tips : The 11 Amazing Features episode. In fact, Evernote is one of the most productive programs to use for developing your organization plan, in addition to collecting, storing, managing and processing all of the your research notes and content. The best thing is that the software is free, and the freeware version offers more than enough functionality to perform the tasks required to design and manage your organization strategy.

So we now have a general idea of the fundamental factors to help minimize information overload and maximize your research effort. It is recommended to assess your mental and physical needs in order to decide on a rough estimate of the amount of time you can dedicate to your research, skills practice and experimentation tasks. Once you have an idea of how much time and energy you can dedicate to the research you can then begin to physically (or more likely virtually) write up a more concrete plan to organize your daily efforts.

In the next section we will look at the implementation of this process in a more concrete example of my actual strategy development.

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Daily Progress – Research Findings, Tasks and Skills Development

In line with the discussion of my research and skills development strategy in the first section of this post, as I continue exploring and working in the online transcription industry, the reality is that the amount of information available (from numerous resources, in different formats and covering different topics and aspects of the multi-faceted and extensive field) can easily become overwhelming. Therefore, I think it will be helpful to describe the strategy I have developed over the past weeks to organize and pace my efforts in order to make consistent and comfortable progress reaching the level of being able to make a living in online transcription and editing telework.

The sheer overload of information that I both need and want to consume to move things forward is quite overwhelming. Therefore, in line with the key concept of pacing I have begun writing up a daily strategy plan to help organize the effort and increase the retention of new information. This is quite easy to do, and I have used a simple Evernote note file titled “transcription career development organization plan”. In my specific case I have listed the handful of most urgent and valuable resources (ex. the TranscribeMe Style Guide, a few of the best transcription blogs I have discovered so far : TranscriptionWave blog  , TranscribeMe blog , and “General Transcription Work From Home” blog ,  in addition to the two best online transcription forums – Transcription Haven and Transcription Essentials. Since it is physically and mentally impossible to consume all of the information contained in these resources, or the numerous other valuable ones which I will encounter as I proceed or simply don’t have enough time to include in the daily research program, this is where pacing is most important.

The first essential thing to do after making a list of the most important and highest priority resources you have discovered is to decide how much time you can reasonably dedicate to consuming the information from those resources each day, as well as the daily time allotment for implementing the knowledge/skills obtained. Since one of the main (and ideal) goals I have mentioned is to maintain income from the transcription work while I continue the research and train myself, it is important to integrate practice/work time in with the research and study time. Through experience I have found that good strategy for this is to alternate between research and skills implementation. For instance, you can plan for an hour of research in the morning and the follow that up with an hour of implementation (perhaps with a nice break in between to rest your mind and eat something after spending an hour reading, watching videos or listening to audio). In addition, it is especially productive to do spend your research and implementation hours on similar subject matter. For instance, during your morning research reading through a style guide you may come across a specific issues, such as “the proper use of the comma”. You may follow that up by looking up the subject “comma usage” on an online grammar web site such as : http://www.grammarbook.com/punctuation/commas.asp . You could also follow up with some addition resources on comma usage and/or closely related topics to add some depth to your understanding. Then, during your following “implementation hour” you can pay more close attention to your use of commas when transcribing a file. Another example would be reading your one daily post on the TranscriptionWave  blog, such as : Tips To Help You Transcribe Quickly , and then take one of the tips (such as : “#3 : Work With Macros”, and follow up by reading the tutorial file in your transcription software which explains how to use macros, and then actually practice using at least one macro while you transcribe a file during your next implementation hour session. You can then practice an additional macro per day in the coming days to reinforce the skill until it becomes routine.

If there is a topic or skill which is a bit complicated, or you are just having trouble grasping for some reason, take some additional time during the next research session to research more deeply into it. Then also spend some more time practicing the new skill during your next implementation session.

During both sessions you should also keep a running note file. During implementation sessions you can jot down any thoughts, ideas, problems, questions, discoveries, etc. which you can then follow up on in the next research session. During the research session you can also jot down thoughts, ideas, problems and questions, in addition to additional resources (ex. links, new blogs/sites, videos, etc.) which you can then follow up on in future sessions. In my experience, it is best NOT to immediately follow new resources you discover. The reason for this is that it tends to throw off the focus and momentum of your research effort. Ideally, you want to create a daily routine of working through small parts of a resource (ex. one blog post per day) as this consistency enables you to build progressively over time. Suddenly introducing a new resource – which is often significantly different in style and uncertain in quality – can really throw off your momentum and focus. I have found it best to record the new resource in your running note and then take some time in the next research session to give the new resource a superficial browse (ex. look over the main blog post menu pages to see what kind of subjects the blog covers, and perhaps record the url of one or two interesting posts from the blog in your running note).  For recording urls for future research, the Evernote application is excellent since the program automatically converts urls you post in your note files into active links, and then you can simply click on the link in the note to open the page. Then over the next few days you can slowly evaluate the new research and decide whether it is worth starting to include some of it’s content in your daily research workload. This, of course, depends on how much time you have available during your research session. In other words, you want to ease into (and warm up to) new content. In this way, your organization plan is dynamic and constantly being evaluated and adjusted to fit your specific needs as they arise and change.  Sometimes you will discontinue working through a resource because you have found one of better quality or which fulfills new content needs which have arisen through your various efforts and unexpected developments and opportunities.

To give you a more concrete example of my current strategy, I am now allotting one hour per day to reading one blog post from each of the 2-3 selected blogs (mentioned earlier), browsing the main blog post pages for posts to read in the future, recording the urls of those selected blog posts in my running note, reading a few tutorial pages of the various software programs I am in the process of incorporating into the workflow, and reading through one or two pages of the TranscribeMe style guide to continue familiarizing myself with the company’s specific transcription requirements as I work on a few  of the short (roughly one minute) files each day. Of course, I also keep the style guide file open and refer to it as I am in the process of working on the transcription files, so as to most strongly reinforce my skills through practical experience. In addition, my internet browser is always on call to perform the common quick transcription research tasks (ex. looking up additional information on companies, people, and/or places mentioned in files I am transcribing,  quickly following up on interesting topics mentioned in transcription files, etc.).

To enhance productivity and efficiency significantly, I am using the excellent Evernote application to create and organize my notes and strategy plans,  collect all the resources I find (ex. web sites, blogs, videos, audio, photos, etc.) – as  Evernote enables you to collect all of these types of media right into your notes so you have access to every component of your research in one place. I am also using Evernote to develop and write the posts on this blog, as it allows me to do everything I need to work on the posts offline, and then I simply copy everything into WordPress to do all of the HTML, publishing and marketing stuff.

Okay. I realize that this is an extremely long (and perhaps a bit tedious) post, but I believe that the points and concepts I have discussed here are very important for laying a solid foundation for developing a productive strategy for building your knowledge and skills related to transcription (and any other form of telework), and doing so in a way which is healthy, maximally productive and efficient in enabling you to attain gainful and consistent transcription work.

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Feel free to donate some Bitcoin to support the research and writing effort of this blog.

Donate some Bitcoin to support the research and writing effort of this blog.

Day 10 : Writing As A Tool For Building and Developing Your Freelance Transcription Career

hand_writing

My first day as a certified member of the transcriptionist team at TranscribeMe has been one of fascination and information overload. Having now registered on the system I have been given access to several well-organized, yet dense, resources which form a comprehensive introduction and transition into the company. The internal social media network (which is essentially a customized, internal, Facebook-style social media platform where all members of the company can connect and share information) is run on the Yammer system. The revolution in workplace social media applications which Yammer exemplifies is in itself a very interesting subject to research. Here’s a very informative lecture by Adam Pisoni, the CEO of Yammer, where he explains how the evolving social media technology is revolutionizing communication and productivity levels in work organizations off all kinds and sizes :

A quick browse through the sections and topics shows a thriving social network of people from locations throughout the world sharing helpful information related to company operations, work issues, support for all kinds of potential issues which can arise, etc. It has all of the helpful features of any social media system, allowing you to connect with, follow, send messages, chat, etc. with other members of the company. Compare this with the essentially ABSENT communication provided by the other company I have been working with for the past month and the TranscribeMe system is a breath of fresh air. It is also a good opportunity to gain experience with this kind of productive communication system and the purposes it serves in the online transcription industry. Communication itself is a VITAL component to the entire online transcription operation, as it is often the only mechanism by which transcribers can collaborate and share important information related to the companies they work for, the projects they work on and the customers they serve. Considering that most online transcriptionists are home-based teleworkers who are dispersed throughout the world, the internet essentially provides the main means of communication between themselves, their coworkers, and their employers/clients.

I decide to take things nice and slowly as I work to get my bearings in this initial stage. I read a couple of posts whose topics catch my interest. These short posts are clear and provide quick and complete answers to very practical questions. I find a handful of these posts in the first hour of browsing, and each one provides an answer to an important question I have as a newbie which then allows me to proceed working through the system with more confidence and competence. I also “follow” a few of the people I know from the external forums who have already been working on TranscribeMe. These connections are valuable, especially in the beginning as I can ask some questions directly to these people instead of taking the risk of bothering other people in the network who I don’t know. As a newbie I am hesitant to make any posts as there is always the risk of breaking etiquette by asking a question which has already been addressed. So I decide to lurk for the first few days and take in as much info as I can without actually posting.

Speaking of etiquette, the company also provides a very helpful “Guide For New Transcribers” ebook (in pdf format). This handy little eight page book provides answers to the most important issues which arise as you get acquainted with the system (ex. the audio files system,  social network rules and etiquette, description of the entire transcription process, information on how to get help, etc.). I commit to reading one or two pages of this document per day to my training schedule.

I now have a healthy amount of information to go through in the days ahead. I will spend roughly an hour per day browsing through and interacting on the company’s internal social media network, reading a few pages of the style guide and beginner’s guide, take on some of the roughly one-minute transcription files to practice my skills and earn some income, and contine to read several blog posts (on the growing number of quality transcription-related blogs I am finding through my research) to continually expand my skills and knowledge related to the whole world of transcription. One such quality blog I have discovered recently through one of the transcription forums is :

http://www.alphabetsecretarial.co.uk/blog/

The Alphabet blog has several especially interesting posts which are worth the time, such as :

Twitter – Nonsensical Jibber Jabber or Transcribers on a Global Scale?

In addition to (and in extension of) all my research, I am finding that my blog writing is becoming more important as the amount of information I am working through increases. The writing process allows me to process and organize the experience. It allows a natural pacing which is healthy for someone like me whose brain works very fast and has a tendency to take on too much which overloads the circuitry and ultimately ends up becoming counter-productive. Knowing that my blog posts will be read by other people who are new to the transcription world in the future forces me to explain the whole experience clearly – both to them and myself (since as we all know the old saying “The best way to learn something is to teach it.”). The blog is also serving another important function of giving me something to focus on when there are no jobs available on either of the company’s available job boards, or when the jobs which are available for not appealing. It is easy to get stuck in the mode of checking the boards obsessively – especially when the workflow is thin – and this can become counterproductive in itself. It is better to focus on something which you focus on productively for several hours.

In general I have found writing to be an increasingly important tool in the expanding information age. The world as a whole, is continuing to be transformed into a more densely information-based entity. Think about how much more information we are faced with on a daily basis today compared with just a decade ago. More and more things in the world are becoming digitized. From the increasing digitization of photographic information enabled by the expansion of Smartphones with attached cameras which can directly upload images to various social media sites in mere seconds, to the more elaborate applications allowed by the collection, processing and presentation of data by “Big Data” applications such as Google Maps, which has now collected enough data to allow users to engage in a “virtual street-level visual tour” of any street in the developed (and even undeveloped world) IN ADDITION to locations underwater, on the Moon, Mars, etc. It really is amazing how much information is now being processed and utilized to enhance a growing number of practical (and some not-so-practical) everyday functions for people throughout the world.

Since information (a.k.a. : “content”) is essentially the new currency of the modern digital world it only makes sense that one way we can contribute to the development of this emerging paradigm is to contribute knowledge in various forms. Writing, of course, is a main mechanism by which we transfer information from inside our minds into the external world and thus to the minds of other individuals and the group-mind as a whole (the internet now serving as the physical embodiment of that aggregate, “global mind”. Therefore, I find that writing (especially with the application of that writing in the form of blogging) is an important component to my overall online activity (of which the transcription, editing, research, etc. are all a part). The writing functions as a thread which ties the other efforts together and makes the whole process more efficient and presentable.

Morgan Gist-MacDonald – academic editor, writing coach and owner of Paper Raven Editing company – explains the importance of building an online presence for the writer as a main tool for helping people, in her blog post :

How building your online presence could change your life and your readers’ 

Morgan’s blog is full of informative and practical blog articles which examine all of the important issues for writers in the digital age. It is well worth the time browsing through her posts.

So, my whole strategy in learning and navigating the transcription world is really taking on some good shape and efficiency. Combining the daily research tasks with practice on audio files within my capability and the blogging effort is really taking on the healthy qualities of creative flow which are turning the whole endeavor into an enlightening and somewhat enjoyable one. It should be interesting to see how much progress I will achieve after another month following this general strategy,

In the next post I will discuss how online transcription is a great way to be exposed to new kinds of interesting information and get paid to do a job which helps improve the quality of that information – a real win-win situation.

FrankyFreedom
freelance_transcriptionist@hotmail.com