Tips for Shortcuts and Efficiency

In 2007, while working at a vision research lab, one of my supervisors was looking over my shoulder as I was copying and pasting data from one window to another. He told me that when switching between two windows, hold down the buttons Alt-Tab. Alt-Tab (or Command-Tab on Mac) switches you back and forth between two windows. I’ll never forget when he said, “It saves me a huge amount of time each day.” I wanted to look at him as if he was crazy. In that instance, using alt-tab maybe saved me 3 seconds at most. However, because I was switching windows so frequently, those 3 seconds turned to 6, 9, 12, and all the sudden, it became second-nature to use Alt-Tab.


The key to efficiency lies in creating shortcuts in the tasks you’re doing most frequently. It wouldn’t make sense for me to spend two hours developing a thorough template with Excel formulas and links for an assessment battery I use maybe once every other year. It happens too infrequently. However, I’ve spent over two hours formulating Excel links and formulas for the cognitive, academic, and social-emotional assessment I use most often. It all comes down to frequency and therefore it is up to you as a school psychologist to determine which assessment batteries are worth your time and effort. It may only save you 20 minutes each time you write the results for that particular assessment battery, but similar to Alt-Tab, it saves you hours in the long run.


The same concept applies when creating thorough templates for a specific disability category. I’ve spent significantly more time designing templates for Specific Learning Disability (SLD) than I have for a for a category such as Intellectual Disability. Specifically, I have over 10 different variations of SLD templates based on factors such as gender, school, and a suspicion of a disability in a different category in addition to SLD.


On a similar note, this concept also applies to websites. Every school psychologist has a district-based website they go to in order to find information about students they are working with. I’d strongly recommend making a shortcut for this website, as well as any other website you are using frequently. There’s many ways you can do this, but one way is by saving the link under “Favorites” or “Bookmarks” on your web browser. An alternative to this is by highlighting the entire link, clicking and holding down the link, and dragging it to your desktop. Another idea is to simply make your most frequently visited website your home page.


A way to increase efficiency when creating your Excel spreadsheets and Word Templates is to be knowledgeable of computers keyboard shortcuts. The most common keyboard shortcuts that I use are Ctrl-C, Alt-Tab. This copies data (Ctrl-C), switches windows (Alt-Tab), and pastes the data (Ctrl-V) into the new document within a matter of seconds. If you are unfamiliar with these three important keyboard shortcuts, refer to the Keyboard Shortcuts tutorial.


Keyboard shortcuts that I find useful:

Windows Shortcut Mac Shortcut Function
Ctrl-C Command-C Copy
Ctrl-V Command-V Paste
Ctrl-X Command-X Cut
Ctrl-F Command-F Find
Ctrl-H Command-Shift-H Replace
Ctrl-Z Command-Z Undo
Ctrl-Y Command-Y Redo
Ctrl-S Command-S Save
Ctrl-N Command-N New Document
Ctrl-O Command-O Open Document
Ctrl-W Command-W Close Document
Ctrl-A Command-A Select All
Ctrl-B Command-B Bold
Ctrl-U Command-U Underline
Ctrl-I Command-I Italicize
Ctrl-P Command-P Print
Ctrl-Shift-> Command-Shift-> Increase Font (+1)
Ctrl-Shift-< Command-Shift-< Decrease Font (-1)
Ctrl-] Command-] Increase Font (+2)
Ctrl-[ Command-[ Decrease Font (-2)
Ctrl-Delete Command-Delete Deletes Full Word
Ctrl-E Command-E Positions Text to Center
Ctrl-L Command-L Positions Text to Left
Ctrl-R Command-R Positions Text to Right

One last tip I would like to feature is the dropdown lists on Microsoft Word. This in my opinion is one of the most efficient features Microsoft Word has to offer school psychologists when it comes to report writing. The dropdown list is featured in the Generating Sentences tutorial, and I’d simply like to emphasize to utilize this as often as necessary.