Want to Graduate Sooner? Try These Timer Tricks for Steno Students
Time is of the essence when it comes to mastering stenography. We want to reach that graduation speed level requirement as quickly as possible and begin our career. We all know the struggle of trying to improve our shorthand skills in record time. Lucky for us, we’ve got a secret weapon at our fingertips: timers! These bad boys will keep us on track and make sure we don’t waste precious practice time. It’s like having a personal coach who won’t let you slack off. And let’s be real, the thought of taking years to get from one speed level to the next is scarier than a ghost story. But fear not, my friends. By using a timer creatively, you can transform your practice sessions and speed up your learning process. In this article, we’ll show you some of the best timer techniques to up your steno game. Trust us, you’ll be amazed at how much of a difference it can make!
Time is on Your Side: The Benefits of Using a Timer for Steno Students
Incorporating a timer into your stenography practice can help you in several ways. Here are a few benefits of using a timer:
By setting a timer for a designated amount of time, you create a sense of urgency that encourages you to focus solely on the task at hand. When you know you only have a limited amount of time to work on something, you’re more likely to avoid distractions and fully engage with the activity. This heightened focus can lead to greater productivity and better results.
Timers can also help prevent burnout by providing regular breaks. Taking short breaks throughout your work or practice session can help recharge your mind, allowing you to return to the task with renewed energy and focus. By using a timer to schedule these breaks, you can ensure that you stay attentive and avoid getting bogged down by mental fatigue.
Breaks tasks into manageable chunks
Dividing your practice time into smaller intervals using a timer makes tasks feel more manageable and less overwhelming. This can lead to increased productivity, as you’re more likely to tackle tasks in a structured manner rather than avoiding them due to their perceived difficulty. By dividing your practice time into manageable intervals, you create a sense of purpose and motivation to stay on task and make the most of each timed session.
A timer creates a sense of urgency, which can help combat procrastination. By setting a timer for specific intervals, you’ll feel more inclined to start working and resist distractions, ultimately increasing your productivity.
Establishes structured routine
Using a timer can help you establish a structured routine, which can improve focus by eliminating uncertainty about when to start, stop, or take breaks. By maintaining a consistent practice schedule with timed intervals, you’ll train your brain to work efficiently and improve your transcription speed, your finger speed and accuracy over time.
When you set a timer, you become more aware of how much time you’re spending on a task. This awareness helps you prioritize and allocate time more effectively, ensuring you make the most of each practice session.
Consistently using a timer during practice sessions instills discipline by encouraging you to adhere to a schedule. When you establish a routine, you’re more likely to stick to it and make steady progress in your practice.
Using a timer helps you monitor your progress and set benchmarks for improvement. By tracking the time it takes to complete specific tasks, you can identify areas that need improvement and adjust your practice accordingly. Use a timer to measure and track your transcription speed, scores and translation rate over time. By monitoring your progress, you can set goals for improvement and stay motivated to continue refining your skills.
Choosing the Right Timer for Steno Success
So, what kind of timer should you use? There are plenty of options available, from the free timer on your smartphone to the built-in timer on your computer. For even more specialized features, consider trying a Pomodoro timer or even a fitness timer.
If you’re not sure where to start, don’t worry – the most important thing is to commit to using a timer and then upgrade as needed. One timer app to check out is Complex Timer, available on the Play Store. This app lets you customize your timer plans and even add in breaks between tasks.
How to use a timer
Start by creating a to-do list for what you want to practice, and then set specific time limits for each task.
Things you will want to include are:
- Finger Drills
- Hesitation Words
- Theory Textbook/Video Lesson Review
- Dictation Practice
If you’re looking to maximize the effectiveness of your traditional dictation practice, we’ve got two great formulas to share with you! Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced steno student, these formulas can help you structure your practice sessions and make the most of your time.
Timer Formula for Challenging Dictation Files
If you’re dealing with a dictation file that has a lot of new concepts or a higher speed than you’re used to, here’s a formula that can help you keep up. This formula is especially useful when the untranslate rate is higher than you’re comfortable with. It will give you more time to work through any challenging sections and help you improve your accuracy and understanding.
Let’s start with the formula for transcription time, which is:
Transcription Time = Time of Dictation File X 2
So, if your dictation file is 10 minutes long, your transcription time should be:
Transcription Time = 10 minutes X 2 = 20 minutes
This means that you should spend 20 minutes transcribing the text.
Now let’s move on to the formula for drilling time, which is:
Drilling Time = Time of Dictation File X 3
Using the same example of a 10-minute dictation file, your drilling time would be:
Drilling Time = 10 minutes X 3 = 30 minutes
This means that you should spend 30 minutes drilling any areas of concern so you can improve your skillset and do better on any future attempt.
By using this formula, you can tackle even the most difficult dictation files.
Timer Formula for Simpler Dictation Files
If you’re working on a dictation file that is easy for you because it doesn’t contain many challenging words or concepts, and is dictated at a speed you can comfortably keep up with without too many untranslates, here’s a formula that can help you structure your practice session:
For transcription time:
Transcription Time = Length of Dictation File + 1
For example, for a two-minute dictation file, the formula would be:
Transcription Time = 2 + 1 = 3 minutes
For drilling time:
Drilling Time = Length of Dictation File + 2
For example, for a two-minute dictation file, the formula would be:
Drilling Time = 2 + 2 = 4 minutes
Using these formulas, you can quickly calculate how much time you should spend on transcription and drilling for any length of dictation file. By using these formulas, you can structure your dictation practice sessions and ensure you’re spending the right amount of time on each task.
Timed Transcription Challenges
Compete against yourself by creating timed transcription challenges. This works especially well for hardcopy practice but can work with any dictation file.
Hard Copy Practice with Timed Challenges
- Select a suitable passage: Choose a passage to transcribe that is interesting and challenging.
- Determine your goal: Establish a target for how long it should take you to transcribe the entire passage. To do this, divide the word count of the passage by your desired words per minute (WPM). For example, if the passage is 400 words and you aim to write at 100 WPM, your goal is to finish transcribing within four minutes.
- Start the timer: As you begin transcribing, race against the clock to finish before time runs out. This added pressure will help you improve your, concentration, reaction time, speed and accuracy over time.
- Evaluate your performance: After you have written the entire passage, without scoping your work, except to add any untranslates to your dictionary if need, use a free text comparison tool, like Editpad, to check your work. This tool allows you to compare the original passage with your transcription, providing a score based on accuracy.
- Adjust your goals: You should do this exercise at least once more. Modify your goals to either complete the passage within a shorter timeframe or maintain the same timeframe while aiming for fewer errors.
- Raise the challenge: As you improve, reduce the allowed time to increase the difficulty and push yourself to reach new heights in your writing skills.
Dictation Practice with Timed Challenges
- Choose your dictation: Select a dictation file to transcribe. You can select a file from any category at whatever speed.
- Set a transcribing goal: Determine how long it should take you to transcribe the file. This goal should be based on your current skill level and the complexity of the material.
- Begin the race against time: Start the timer and work diligently to finish transcribing the material before the timer runs out.
- Focus on problem areas: As you transcribe, prioritize addressing untranslates and other obvious issues. If you encounter a particularly difficult section, skip it and move to the next area of concern. Remember, you’re racing against the clock!
- Submit for grading: Once the timer is up, submit your transcript for evaluation. Use the feedback to identify areas for improvement.
- Drill: Pick what words, concept, and/or sections you want to drill, and set a timer so you can drill for an allotted amount of time.
- Push yourself: Practice the dictation at least once more with a new goal. Modify your goal by gradually shortening the allotted time for transcribing. As you improve, challenge yourself to work faster and more efficiently.
IMPORTANT: Be sure to scope according to your steno notes, not your memory, to ensure genuine improvement.
By incorporating a timer into your practice sessions, you’ll develop better time management skills, maintain focus, and improve your overall productivity, ultimately helping you get more done in less time.
The Pomodoro Technique
One of the most popular ways steno students use a timer when practicing is by applying the Pomodoro Technique. This time management method involves breaking your work into short, focused intervals (usually 25 minutes) with brief breaks in between. By breaking your work into short, focused intervals followed by brief breaks, you can maintain concentration and boost productivity. Here’s how to apply the Pomodoro Technique to your stenography practice:
- Set a timer for 25 minutes and start practicing.
- When the timer goes off, take a 5-minute break.
- Repeat this process four times, then take a longer break of 15-30 minutes.
You can easily integrate the Pomodoro Technique with other timer schedules to maximize your practice sessions. For instance, during a 25-minute focused interval, you could work on a four-minute dictation file, transcribe for eight minutes, and drill for 12 minutes, leaving one extra minute to spare. Alternatively, you can adjust your Pomodoro sessions to be 24 minutes long, followed by a six-minute break.
To learn more about combining the Pomodoro Technique with stenography practice, check out our article titled “Slicing Through Steno Challenges: The Pomodoro Technique.”
The ways to use a timer when practicing as a steno student are plentiful and can significantly improve your skills, speed, and focus. By incorporating these techniques into your practice routine, you can make the most of your steno practice sessions.
Experiment with different timer intervals and methods to discover what works best for you. Remember, practice makes perfect, and by consistently using a timer during your stenography practice, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a proficient stenographer. Time’s up – it’s time to get practicing!
“Stay focused and disciplined – when the timer goes off, move on to the next task on your list, no matter where you are in the process. Success is about commitment and consistency, so keep pushing forward and don’t let distractions or unfinished business slow you down.”
“I write down what time I start drilling on a piece of paper or set a timer.”
“I set a timer for going over my files. Once the timer goes off no matter where I am I move on.”
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How often should I use a timer when practicing stenography as a steno student?
A: Use a timer as often as needed to maintain focus and build speed. Many steno students find it helpful to use a timer during every practice session.
Q: Is there an optimal time interval for steno practice?
A: The ideal time interval varies depending on the individual. Experiment with different intervals to find what works best for you.
Q: Can I use a timer to prevent burnout during my steno practice?
A: Yes, a timer can help prevent burnout by providing regular breaks. Taking short breaks throughout your work or practice session can help recharge your mind, allowing you to return to the task with renewed energy and focus. By using a timer to schedule these breaks, you can ensure that you stay attentive and avoid getting bogged down by mental fatigue.
Q: How can using a timer help me improve my stenography skills?
A: Using a timer can help you in several ways. It enhances your focus by creating a sense of urgency, prevents burnout by providing regular breaks, breaks tasks into manageable chunks, reduces procrastination, establishes a structured routine, encourages time-consciousness, promotes discipline, and tracks your progress. By incorporating a timer into your practice sessions, you’ll develop better time management skills, maintain focus, and improve your overall productivity, ultimately helping you get more done in less time.
Q: What kind of timer should I use for stenography practice?
A: There are plenty of options available, from the free timer on your smartphone to the built-in timer on your computer. For even more specialized features, consider trying a Pomodoro timer or even a fitness timer. One timer app to check out is Complex Timer, available on the Play Store. This app lets you customize your timer plans and even add in breaks between tasks.
Q: How do I use a timer when practicing stenography?
A: Start by creating a to-do list for what you want to practice, and then set specific time limits for each task. You can use a formula to calculate how much time you should spend on transcription and drilling for any length of dictation file. Another way to use a timer is to create timed transcription challenges, either with hardcopy practice or dictation practice. You can also apply the Pomodoro Technique by breaking your work into short, focused intervals with brief breaks in between.
Q: How can using a timer help me reach graduation speed level requirements more quickly?
A: By incorporating a timer into your practice sessions, you’ll develop better time management skills, maintain focus, and improve your overall productivity, ultimately helping you get more done in less time. You’ll also be able to track your progress and set benchmarks for improvement, leading to faster progress towards graduation speed level requirements.
Q: How can I measure my progress using a timer?
A: Using a timer helps you monitor your progress and set benchmarks for improvement. By tracking the time it takes to complete specific tasks, you can identify areas that need improvement and adjust your practice accordingly. You can use a timer to measure and track your transcription speed, scores, and translation rate over time. By monitoring your progress, you can set goals for improvement and stay motivated to continue refining your skills.
Q: Will using a timer for my steno practice really help me graduate sooner?
A: While using a timer alone won’t guarantee you’ll graduate sooner, it can certainly help. By using a timer to improve your focus, prevent burnout, break tasks into manageable chunks, reduce procrastination, establish a structured routine, track progress, and promote discipline, you’ll become more efficient in your steno practice. Ultimately, this increased efficiency can help you reach your speed level requirements faster and graduate sooner.