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A few years ago, I heard about an app called TextExpander that was a HUGELY helpful productivity tool in my business.
The concept behind this software seemed insignificant at first glance. Still, shortly after I started using it, it turned out to be a total game changer in how I handled emails (and, for that matter, it overhauled the way I look at anything that requires typing).
I'm not kidding… this app has saved me GOBS of time and creative energy, and since it has impacted how I do business, I wanted to make sure YOU knew about it too.
What Is TextExpander?
If you're anything like me – you probably have certain sentences, phrases, explanations, responses, and full-blown emails that you type out repeatedly.
Most people just learn to live with it, because they don't realize how inefficient this is, they don't recognize how much time they're wasting in the process and most notably – they don't know that there's a better way to deal with this issue.
When I was in my 20's and early 30's, I used to work as a credit analyst/underwriter in the commercial banking world.
Something I HATED about this job was all the repetitive typing.
Every credit memo I put together had certain sentences, phrases, and explanations that had to be typed out. It was mostly “filler” text that didn't deliver much information or value, but it had to be written out nonetheless.
My email inbox was a whole other nightmare to deal with.
I used to get A LOT of repetitive questions that required a response.
With every new customer I dealt with, there were certain “canned explanations” I knew by heart because I had to send them out so frequently.
It wasn't hard to type out these explanations, but it was annoying because it chewed up a lot of time I didn't have to waste.
The funny thing is – as I transitioned out of banking and into a full-time capacity with my land investing and blogging endeavors, I found that this “repetitive typing issue” didn't go away.
It comes up constantly when I need to do any of the following…
- Type out my mailing address or phone number
- Email offers to people
- Explain why I don't have time to take on a coaching client
- Say “no” to someone who wants to write a guest post for this blog
- Type out long website URLs that I commonly refer to
- Send out repetitive emails that require thought, tact, and finesse
- Recall some of the random codes I use on my website regularly
When I have to write these things from memory, it can chew up at least a minute or two (best case scenario).
Writing a good email consumes closer to 5 – 15 minutes of my time (sometimes even more), especially when I take time to respond with an abundance of clarity.
This is precisely what TextExpander is for.
Rather than losing all these random segments of time throughout the day (which can add up to several hours each week), TextExpander allows me to generate any of these lines of text (whether it's a website URL, mailing address or a 1,000-word email) in one second.
TextExpander allows me to come up with abbreviations (aka – “snippets”) that, when typed out, will expand into the full pre-written text I've designated.
For example, as a blogger, I get emails daily from people who want to publish guest articles on this blog.
Every once in a while, I'll see a great piece of content that's worth posting here – but unfortunately, 95% of the articles submitted to me are horribly written, have nothing to do with the subject matter of this blog, or they just don't meet my standards as a blogger (which are much higher than most).
Since there's a high likelihood that my answer to most of these emails will be “no” (unless they impress me with their first email), I came up with a canned response for these emails.
Here's what it says:
Thanks for reaching out! I appreciate you thinking of me with this opportunity but at the moment, we’re not looking for any new guest posts on the blog.
I certainly appreciate your mindfulness of what we're doing and I wish you all the best in finding a good fit for this kind of content.
Keep up the good work!
As you can see, it's a nice, friendly response that says “no” without me sounding like an offensive jerk.
If I had to think through this kind of message and type it out from scratch every time, it would probably take me 2 – 3 minutes (and if I'm having a bad day, the email probably wouldn't come across NEARLY as friendly).
Luckily, I was able to copy and paste this entire email into TextExpander – and now I can easily generate the message by typing out this snippet I came up with:
That's right! All I have to do is type out “guestno” and this ENTIRE message will pop up wherever I type it.
With TextExpander, I can put the thought and time into delivering this generic message once, and I can keep reusing that response repeatedly without spending excessive time trying to word it just right.
Here are some other examples of how I use TextExpander
tyvm: Thank you very much!
offerno: Hi <<First Name>>,
Thanks for submitting the information regarding your property.
Unfortunately, the specifics of your property don’t quite fit the profile of what we’re looking for at this time and as such, we won’t be able to send you an offer.
I apologize for any inconvenience and I wish you all the best in getting your property sold ASAP.
ttel: 555-555-555 (<<not my real phone number, but you get the idea)
aadd: 123 Anywhere Street (<<again, not my address, but you get the point)
City, State, Zip
ddate: July 10, 2017
qqu: If you have any questions, let me know.
sse: Does that make sense? Let me know if you need more clarification.
bbio: Seth Williams is a land investor and residential income property owner with nearly a decade of experience in the commercial real estate banking industry. He is also the Founder of REtipster.com – a real estate investing blog that offers real-world guidance for real estate investors.
Hopefully, I'm illustrating the usefulness of TextExpander here.
As you can see… it's entirely possible to live without this app – but why would you want to? The price is relatively inexpensive, and if you more than a few hours in front of a computer each day, the time it will save you makes it a pretty easy cost to justify.
If I had to go back to the days of remembering and typing out all of this stuff, I wouldn't have any hair left because I would've pulled it all out a long time ago.
It's one of those little things that has made a BIG difference in the way I handle my written communication, and it doesn't just save me time; it makes me sound like a smarter, nicer person in a lot of cases – because I already took the time to say it right once, and every time after that is automatic.
If this sounds like a useful tool, check out TextExpander (note: if you go through this affiliate link, you'll get an automatic 20% discount). Your future self will thank you for it!