Dictation: The best Apple iPhone / Mac timesaver for perfectionists

You spend too much time writing email.

I do, too. As perfectionists, we over-think, edit, and retype the same sentences over and over again, wasting minutes at a time. And these minutes really add up.

A McKinsey survey from 2012 says that employees spend an average of 28% of their workweek on email. If extra, unnecessary editing adds 25% to that number, that's an additional 34 minutes per day lost to the dark side of perfectionism.

The solution to email writing pain:

Apple's Dictation tool for iPhone iOS and Mac OS X

If (like me) you're the kind of person who over-thinks and self-edits as they type, dictation will really help you free up your writing. If you haven't tried it, now is the time.

How to use dictation:

Dictation on iOS 8

On the iPhone, dictation is done using Siri. Just tap to place the cursor in any text field. Then tap the microphone icon to the left of the space bar and start talking. With iOS 8, words now appear on the screen as you speak.

You can dictate punctuation, such as "comma", "period", "..." (ellipses), and more. Here's a comprehensive list of the dictation shortcuts available to use with Siri.

On the Mac, put your cursor in any text field and press the Fn (Function) key twice. Or click Edit in the menu and select Start Dictation. If you've enabled Enhanced Dictation, you'll see the words appear as you speak. To stop dictation, press the Fn key one more time.

As with iOS, you can dictate punctuation on your Mac. Here's a list of the dictation commands available in OS X.

With OS X Yosemite, you can also enable advanced commands, which gives you even more voice control options and allows you to create your own commands. These custom voice commands can link to an app, menu item, keyboard shortcut, or even an Automator workflow.

Dictation on OS X Yosemite

How I use Apple dictation

I hate to be chained to my desk, especially in the afternoon, when sitting in one place is more conducive to napping than working. Walking around tends to get my creative juices flowing, so I'll take my iPhone with me on walks and use the dictation tool to do my writing. This is a great way to draft emails, blog posts, or just brainstorm ideas in Evernote.

If a message is important, I'll ignore the errors as I go and save a draft for later. The important thing is to avoid shifting into "editor mode". I'll wait until I'm back at my computer to edit messages and send them. This provides the added benefit of a second read before sending important emails--always preferred for anything containing potentially sensitive information.

Blake Oliver

Los Angeles, California, United States