Saturday, 15 January 2022

Working more efficiently with AutoHotkey (part 3)

Imagine having to press just one key combination to fire up all the programmes you need and be ready to start working instantly. AutoHotkey offers a simple way to do exactly that – and much more.

 

What is AutoHotkey?

AutoHotkey is a free, open-source scripting language for Windows for creating small to complex scripts for all kinds of desktop tasks. AutoHotkey enables you to define hotkeys for your mouse and keyboard, repurpose keys or set up autocorrect-like replacements, which you’ll love! 

 


 


More useful AutoHotkey scripts for translators and writers 

Given the popularity of my earlier blog posts about AutoHotkey (which you’ll find here and here), this blog post will introduce you to yet more immensely useful AutoHotkey scripts. They include: scripts for adding quotes or parentheses; scripts for performing Google or dictionary searches from any window; a script for saving a temporary version of text effortlessly; and a script for launching several programmes by pressing one key combination.

As always, remember that any text following a semicolon (;) below serves just as a comment, reminding you of what the script means or what you need to do to trigger it. It won’t be executed by the AutoHotkey programme.

 

Adding quotes or parentheses 

These scripts make sure that quotes or parentheses are added to text you’re just writing.

Example scripts:


; add quotes by highlighting text and then pressing WIN + 2:                   
#2::                       
    Send ^c
    Sleep 100
    clipboard = "%clipboard%"
    Send ^v
Return

; add parentheses by highlighting text and then pressing WIN + p:
#P::                       
    Send ^c
    Sleep 100
    clipboard = (%clipboard%)
    Send ^v
Return


Performing Google or dictionary searches from any window

With AutoHotkey it is possible to perform Google or dictionary searches from any window without having to perform Copy + Paste again and again and again:

Example scripts:


; highlight term or phrase and press CTRL+SHIFT+G to search in Google
^+G::                       
    Send, ^c
    Sleep 100
    Run, http://www.google.de/search?q=%clipboard%
    Return

; highlight term or phrase and press CTRL+SHIFT+D to search in Duden
^+D::                       
    Send, ^c
    Sleep 100
    Run, https://www.duden.de/suchen/dudenonline/%clipboard%
    Return
    
; highlight term or phrase and press CTRL+SHIFT+L to search in Linguee
^+L::                       
    Send, ^c
    Sleep 100
    Run, https://www.linguee.com/english-german/search?source=auto&query=%clipboard%
    Return

; highlight term or phrase and press CTRL+SHIFT+M to search in Microsoft Language Portal for English to German
^+M::                       
    Send, ^c
    Sleep 100
    Run, https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/language/Search?&searchTerm=%clipboard%&langID=354&Source=true&productid=0
    Return


Moving up one folder in Windows Explorer by pressing the middle mouse button

If you use Windows Explorer to navigate around your folder system, this script might come in useful: pressing the middle mouse button enables you to move one folder up in Windows Explorer.

Here is the script for it:

#IfWinActive, ahk_class CabinetWClass
~MButton::Send !{Up}
#IfWinActive
return



Saving a temporary version of text

This script (which has been proposed by Jack Dunning here) copies selected text to a text file which I’ve named SaveEdit.txt (which is stored in a folder which I’ve named Temporary). Each time I use the CTRL+ALT+s Hotkey combination, all the text in a document or web editing field, which I’ve just typed, is automatically selected, copied to the Windows Clipboard and then saved to the SaveEdit.txt file.

 


Note that this script only serves the purpose of temporarily backing up text which you’re just writing! The file is overwritten each time the script is used.

 

I love using this script:

^!S::                        ; CTRL+ALT+s                       
Send, ^a
Sleep 100
Send, ^c
Sleep 100
IfExist, C:\Users\User\Documents\Temporary\SaveEdit.txt
    {
        FileDelete, C:\Users\User\Documents\Temporary\SaveEdit.txt
    }
FileAppend, %clipboard%, C:\Users\User\Documents\Temporary\SaveEdit.txt
Click
return


Pressing one key combination to launch several programmes at once 

As mentioned above, AutoHotkey offers an amazing way to fire up several programmes with the pressing of just one hotkey combination!

I’ve defined WIN + n (which is what #n:: in the script stands for) as the hotkey combination to activate my script for launching, for example, the following programmes in one go: Outlook, SDL Trados Studio, my Clients folder, my UniLex Pro electronic dictionary application, and Chrome.

Here is the script for it:

#n::
Run Outlook.exe
Run C:\Program Files (x86)\SDL\SDL Trados Studio\Studio16\SDLTradosStudio.exe
Run C:\Users\User\Documents\Clients
Run C:\Program Files (x86)\UniLexPro\BSUniLexPro17.exe
Run Chrome.exe
return

 


 

AutoHotkey has simplified the computing lives of Windows users around the globe. It could also significantly simplify your life, so why not look into setting it up to enjoy the benefits of this amazing tool?



Tuesday, 21 December 2021

Christmas 2021 donation to WWF

In the same minimalist vein as in previous years I have once again, instead of spending money on Christmas cards and gifts, made a Christmas donation to a charity this year.

In light of the increasingly palpable consequences of climate change, I’ve chosen WWF, an organisation that pushes for a reduction in carbon emissions and presses for measures to help everyone on Earth live sustainably.

WWF has been engaging with leading businesses and government leaders for many decades to prepare for the massive changes lying ahead and to reduce the emissions that are driving us towards a climate catastrophe.


We are the last generation that can avert the impending catastrophic effects of climate change


 

Recent events have frighteningly brought home to us that climate change is – inevitably and irreversibly – upon us now! Its effects, which are hitting us earlier than anticipated, are serious and becoming more calamitous.

It’s worth bearing in mind that we are the last generation that can avert the impending catastrophic effects of climate change. Tackling climate change will require action by everyone of us, and WWF emphasises that we have the knowledge and the tools to reduce our impact on the climate.

 

If this charitable cause appeals to you, too, you can donate to WWF here.

 

 

I would like to take this opportunity to wish all readers of my blog a wonderful, hopefully Covid-free Christmas and a happy, healthy new year.

 

German version of this blog article:

Weihnachten 2021: Spende an den WWF

Thursday, 9 December 2021

My Social Media Officer role for the ITI Western Regional Group (WRG) and general thoughts on social media


What’s in social media, especially for those of us who run small businesses? And for those of us who are in charge of the social media accounts for our professional or other associations?


Learning effective, targeted social media use as WRG Social Media Officer

I recently stepped down from my volunteer role as Joint Social Media Officer for my local translators’ and interpreters’ association, the ITI Western Regional Group (WRG), after one year. I’d been mainly responsible for the WRG's Twitter account and was sharing the role with Mariana Roccia, who taught me a lot and was an absolute delight to work with!

My Joint Social Media Officer role involved posting about WRG-related events, news and updates on the WRG social media platforms, and also included several other general committee responsibilities. It provided an excellent opportunity to learn what effective, targeted social media use is all about. I’d also been keen to give back to the WRG, which I feel proud to be a member of.



My Social Media Officer role for the ITI WRG provided an excellent opportunity
to learn what effective, targeted social media use is all about



I couldn’t help feeling at times, though, that the WRG with its small and eclectic membership would be able to function perfectly well without a social media presence, but instead just with its internal forum, especially for announcements directed at members. As for posts directed at potential clients, my hunch is that translation buyers are generally far too busy to follow social media updates. But that’s just my twopence worth.


Social media for knowledge workers and small business owners

My reasons for stepping down were both family- and work-related, but I also felt I wasn’t the right person for a social media role in the end. Social media, after all, has never been (and probably never will be) my cup of tea. While I’ve heard good things about LinkedIn and would like to use it more once time allows, I am otherwise not keen on social media.

When it comes to social media, I’m biased: I’ve read the bestselling (and thought-provoking) books “Digital Minimalism” and “Deep Work” by Georgetown University computer science professor Cal Newport. And I strongly agree with the well-researched and highly convincing propositions and views about social media use for knowledge workers.

 

What’s in social media, especially for those of us who run small businesses?


Whether you love or hate social media or simply are curious about it, I highly recommend the books “Digital Minimalism” and “Deep Work” by Cal Newport: they provide a gripping insight into the mechanics and underlying psychology of social media.

 

Why social media abstinence is a good idea

Social media is said to be a highly effective and low-cost means to increase awareness of your brand, but, if done properly, social media marketing is also very time-consuming. Bear in mind that your potential clients are probably very busy and therefore unlikely to hang out on social media. Add to this the proven damaging effects that social media has on humans in general, and social media will quickly lose its appeal.

If you’re a small business owner, you risk wasting precious time on social media, which could be spent more fruitfully otherwise. There are, inarguably, lots of other effective and less time-consuming ways in which freelancers and business owners can market themselves and their services (more on this perhaps in a future blog post). 

 

If you’re a small business owner, you risk wasting precious time on social media,
which could be spent more fruitfully otherwise

 

These are harsh and perhaps uncomfortable views on social media marketing, and I know most of you will strongly disagree. I rarely blog about social media, and felt this blog post has finally provided me with an opportunity to air a few personal thoughts about social media use in general.



Having said all that, I thoroughly enjoyed being a member of the team on the ITI Western Regional Group’s committee in the past year and (while I won’t miss the social media itself) am definitely going to miss the social interaction and fruitful collaboration with my WRG committee co-members. Thanks, guys!




Sunday, 31 October 2021

Focused, productive, happy: the power of routines

If you’re time-poor, this post is for you. The ultimate solution to making more time may be to simply rethink and tweak your existing routines, or to create new routines. Many things in life are totally beyond our control; a routine, by contrast, is something that we can control.


Exploiting my most valuable resource: time

Time is the most valuable resource at my disposal, so I endeavour to take optimal advantage of it. Routines help me stay focused and productive throughout my workday. They help minimise any inner resistance which I tend to encounter in getting things done. Needless to say, this naturally increases my level of feel-good hormones, too!

 

Personal routines prime us for success and make it easier for us
to hit our professional and personal goals

(Image by EskYew on Pixabay)

A routine can be defined as a sequence of actions which you perform repeatedly. It may involve just tiny steps at a time; these, however, will have an exponential effect over time! Personal routines prime us for success and make it easier for us to hit our professional and personal goals.

 

From a solid morning routine to regular runs: routines that work well for me


The routines appropriate for each one of us will be wildly different. For me the following routines work really well at the moment:

- Getting up early on weekdays and following a solid morning routine (which I blogged about here) helps me enter my “work state of mind” ahead of starting my workday.

- Going for a short walk or on a run at 10am when I’ve already got a fair amount of work done feels satisfying.

- Checking non-work-related email just once per day in the evening means I can prioritise work emails during the day.

- Adhering to a minimal to-do list every day (which I blogged about here) provides me with a sense of accomplishment at the end of each and every day.

- Reading one short chapter in a computer programming book every day and doing my best to get my head around its content helps me build up a specialism required in my translation job.

- Implementing a one-a-day declutter approach
(which I blogged about here) has worked its magic over time in that I’ve been able to rid myself gradually of many unnecessary items.

 

 

For many of us, time is the most valuable resource at our disposal,
so it seems wise to resort to techniques enabling us take optimal advantage of it

 

I admit with some of these routines I found it difficult initially to muster the discipline and willpower to follow through on them. However, they’ve since become ingrained in me as habits: I no longer think twice about whether I feel up to them or not.

 

Countering decision fatigue with the help of routines

The beauty of routines is that they not only are great for countering decision fatigue in that we simply automate certain decisions, but also add rhythm to our days. Our days will flow much more smoothly as a result! In the end, routines are neither boring nor stifling: they’re necessary.

 

For many of us, time is the most valuable resource at our disposal, so it seems wise to resort to techniques enabling us take optimal advantage of it. In this post I explain how routines can help us hit our work and personal goals.

 

Related popular blog posts: 

8 March 2020: My (unusual) approach to minimising social media time

19 July 2019: The 80/20 rule: Achieving more with less

4 April 2019: Reducing office time by prioritising and batching

19 March 2019: 5 simple techniques for making time

2 July 2018: The 5-step guide to switching into minimalist work mode

5 September 2017: Super-easy decluttering for busy people
 
22 June 2016: The minimal to-do list 

 

Adhering to a minimal to-do list provides me with
a sense of accomplishment at the end of each and every day