How not to waste 10 days a year… automation!

Since Thanksgiving I have been thinking about all things that I take for granted: family, work, friends… And last week while I was building a book I got to thinking about all the things that make my work easier that I take for granted. When I started building books in 2004 I didn’t know any shortcuts, didn’t use any scripts and half the software I use now wasn’t even around. To think of all the time I wasted doing the simple little tasks by hand it blows my mind. Just imagine wasting 15 seconds on each page times 500,000+ pages. If I did my math right that is almost 60 days of wasted time in the past 6+ years. 60 DAYS!

Although this post wont deal directly with keyboard shortcuts (I will try to post at least one shortcut a week) I do plan on giving you my top 5 time saving tips over the next  few articles. I will list all 5 here and then explain why in individual posts.

  1. DropBox
  2. QuicKeys
  3. Drag & Drop Script
  4. Issuu
  5. GMail (Mail Plane)

DropBox LogoI will start with DropBox – First of all it is FREE! You can pay for more space, but you get 2GB of storage space for FREE, which is plenty for most uses.

I have already written about DropBox in an earlier post, you can read the whole article here. It is an in depth post on why I like DropBox and how I use it, there is also a podcast version at the bottom of the linked page you can listen to while you work so you don’t have to WASTE your time reading the whole article, lol.

Here I will just outline the main ways I use DropBox and a summary of what it is.

DropBox is cross platform (Mac, Window, Linux, iPhone, Ansdroid) file syncing utility. What the heck would I use that for, you ask? I use it to keep all the files I use, personal & work related at my finger tips. I have a folder of fonts, images, Quark pages, Photoshop brushes, scripts… that way I can keep all my computers running in tandem. If I have to access a file from my laptop, or my wifes computer then I have all the files I need ready. There is also a web interface where I can access files if I need to.

Here is the way it works, I have a folder on my work computer that uses DropBox DiagramDropBox to sync it to the web. Then any other computer I have linked to my account will have that same file synced to it’s shared folder automatically. (Post a question below if this doesn’t make sense.) Here is a diagram to try to make it easier to understand.

OK, so now you know why I use it, but how does it save time during production? First with Realtors, have you ever tried to explain how to use FTP to a Realtor? Not fun or easy. Instead I send them a link to my public DropBox folder and tell them to just upload the large agency ad there. It is easy and involves no explanation.

Second with ID’s, production is a busy time, so I like to make things a simple as possible, I create and share a folder with the production staff, that way we can share large files with each other by just dragging and dropping files into our shared folder. The technology used actually syncs the files faster than FTP or email so it is perfect for large files. One caution though, if the file is deleted out of any of the folders it is deleted out of all of them, so be sure to put a copy of the file in the folder. The web interface will keep a copy of the file in an archive so it isnt lost forever, but then we are back to wasting time.

Third and final with designers, one thing a graphic artist cant get away from is other designers, especially when working on TREB publications. I am always sharing PDF’s, Quark pages & Photoshop files with other books who are running duplicate ads. I have several folders that are shared with GA’s across the country where we can just zip and drop files when we are done with an ad. It saves so much time and energy.

I am sure that after you play with DropBox for a while you will think of other great uses that will save you time and effort. If you are interest in using DropBox please click on this link here. Although I don’t get monetary compensation I do get extra space added to my DropBox account for everyone that signs up for an account by using my link.

Next article will explain QuicKeys.