Wednesdays are simplicity days at SimpleProductivity blog.
One of the best things you can do for personal productivity is to automate repetitive tasks. If you can do something in one keystroke that before would take you 10, you have just given yourself a 90% boost in efficiency.
Text replacing programs, like Breevy, are the way to make that happen.
I am often asked to review software as a part of this blog. Most software is somewhat useful, but few programs actually make me change the way I do things. One of the exceptions to this was a little program called Breevy. I reviewed it back in 2010, at Software Review: Breevy Auto Text Replacer and More!. At the time I was asked to review it, I was using ShortKeys, which was bulky and quirky. But Breevy blew me away.
It is now three years later, and Breevy is an essential piece of my productivity strategy on the computer.
What Breevy Is
Breevy is first and foremost a text expander. That means you type in a few keystrokes, and it expands your text into something else. This saves a lot of time when you are constantly typing the same things over and over.
For instance, if you type in “boneless skinless chicken breast” often, you could have an abbreviation set up as “bsc” which would automatically expand. That’s a 91% decrease in keystrokes.
I do not type numbers well. One of the thing that Breevy does is allow you to shortcut dates. For example, if I want to insert the current date in what I am typing, I type “ds” (date stamp) and it puts the date in in the format Month/Day/Year. For my programming code, where I use the format YearMonthDay, there is another abbreviation I have set up: “dy”.
Breevy can also do date calculations. If I want to get yesterday’s date, I can subtract off 1 day from the day part of the date, without thinking about it.
Breevy’s Other Strengths
At the time that I reviewed Breevy, the program did not support non-text keys in the abbreviations (like arrows, Control, etc). That was remedied shortly after the review, and that turned Breevy into a macro programming language.
That means that you can have it repeat pretty much any sequence of keystrokes to create an action. This is the powerful part for me. For instance, if I am setting up new blog articles, I can mark a topic as “done” in my ideas list by putting the programming to use. This entails accessing the menus of the program, arrowing down to the place in the document and cutting/pasting text elsewhere.
I love the fact that Breevy syncs through Dropbox. That means my abbreviations are available no matter where I go. No more having to recreate things, or do manual imports/exports from a program to take my information with me.
Breevy Power Uses
Here are some things that I use Breevy for:
I produce a lot of code in my work. When it is in standard format, I can quickly and easily have error checking, rollbacks and statistics. To put the format in manually is very time-consuming. So I have a Breevy abbreviation set up to do the whole thing for me. The end result: my code is re-runnable, standardized, and easy to follow.
As I am writing blog articles, the articles move through stages, where they are tagged with keywords. First they are tagged with needing a topic (“decide”). Then they go progressively through “outline”, “write”, “finish”, “post” and “proof”. I have Breevy set up so that when I am done with a phase, the tags are switched out and the article moves to the next stage. This allows me to see exactly where every article in my log is as I search on the tags.
This was a hard one. I had a file that had 2652 lines in it. My boss decided that I needed to put a piece of code in front of each line. It wasn’t the same code, though. It was dependent on the 5th word of each line.
I certainly wasn’t going to do this by typing it all in.
I set up a Breevy abbreviation to do one line. It would select the fifth word, copy it, then go to the front of the line and put in the required code based on that copied word. Then it moved to the next line.
Then I put in another abbreviation to run the above one 60 times. (60 was about all my poor little computer could hand at once). So it went from a nightmare to something fairly easy to run.
If you are looking to really boost your productivity at the computer, I urge you to give Breevy a try. It is a program I would never wish to be without.
Photo by jurvetson