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Use "boilerplate" to save hours of paperwork

"Boilerplating" is an efficiency lover's dream, ideally suited to computers. Whenever you insert a standardized block of text into a document and then personalize it, you are taking advantage of this time-saving technique. For example, let's say you are a tax consultant and you keep getting the same question about capital gains tax over and over again. If you're smart, you answer it once and save the answer as a Memo document. Whenever you get the question again, you open a new document in Memo, type in: 'Dear John, thanks for the question on capital gains tax...." Then press (MENU) File Insert, select the document that has the answer and press (ENTER). Go through the finished document once and adjust the stock answer if needed to fit the letter you are writing. Then all you have to do is print out the new document, or save it and give it to your assistant to print out and send off.


There are a number of Palmtop approaches to boilerplating. The example above shows how you might save boilerplate as Memo documents. You could also create a custom Database or use the NoteTaker application to save boilerplate. Going back to our tax consultant example, he or she might open NoteTaker, press (F2) to add an item, and enter Capital Gains in the Title field and the answer to the question in the Note field. Whenever the consultant needed specific boilerplate, he or she would open NoteTaker, highlight the question or topic in the All Notes field, press (F3) to go to the Notes field, and use the Palmtop's Copy and Paste features to copy the answer to a Memo document. They might also create a system macro that automates the process.

Apply boilerplating to other uses

Any expert consultant can receive hundreds of requests for information. Stock answers kept on the Palmtop as boilerplate save time and let a consultant answer more requests for information.

A real estate investor or agent writing a contract can pull out a database of standard clauses for modifying a contract. A professor with 100's of essays to read and give feedback on, can store an assortment of often-used comments and cut them into his or her written feedback quickly and easily.

The concept of boilerplating can be used with spreadsheet templates or database files as well as text documents. In any case, the trick is to identify blocks of text, formulas and formats that you use over and over again, and save them as a boilerplate for future use.

Keep your Palmtop "desk" clean

As barnacles grow on a boat, so stuff aggregates about our offices -- and on our Palmtops. In the physical and electronic world, clutter hampers our effectiveness and our fulfillment.

The solution is to regularly clean up, throw out and organize. Experts advise that you schedule a filing session once a week to deal with piles of paper and unwanted mail on your desk or in your in-box. Lessen the incoming volume of mail by taking the time to get off mailing lists. They also advise to clean up your desk at the end of each day, throw away anything you haven't used in six months, and create storage spaces for your nonessential, but treasured barnacles.


Most of this advice applies to your Palmtop. Make a weekly appointment for yourself to finish up and clean off past appointments and ToDo's. If you are signed up for several online news groups you may have to wade through hundreds of non-essential messages. Look carefully at the news groups you are signed up for and eliminate the ones you don't really need, read, or respond to.

Additional advice on the subject was given by Conrad Cox, leader of a Users Group in San Francisco. Conrad wrote this advice in the Users Group newsletter:

"When the new year comes, people who use paper appointment books and planners can throw them out the window of their high rise. On my Palmtop, I extract the previous year's activity from my Appointment Book file. I review each PhoneBook entry and delete any that are no longer needed. I use Filer to review the files on my Palmtop's C drive and A drive. I delete files for applications that I no longer use. Most of the other Palmtop users in our group extract their old appointments more frequently. This helps reduce the size of the appointment file, so the Appointment Book's response time is faster. The same is true with files for PhoneBook, Database and other built-in applications."

Rich Hall, Managing Editor for The HP Palmtop Paper, advises to go through the category field of PhoneBook, NoteTaker and Database and rethink your categories. Combine categories into new and comprehensive ones. Eliminate categories you don't use. This will make the Subset and Sort features work faster.

Rich echoes Conrad's advice on Filer. He periodically reviews all files on his Palmtop. If he no longer needs a file, he deletes it. If he thinks he'll need it in the next three months, he keeps it on his Palmtop. If he thinks he may need it sometime in the future, or is not sure whether he will or not, he backs it up to a floppy disk and removes it from the Palmtop.

Rich advises that you be careful when you delete application files. Check your AppManager screen first and delete the icons for programs you no longer want. Make a list of the icons you deleted, and the ones you intend to keep. Consult the list when your delete the application files with Filer.

Promote increased wisdom in the world

A good idea is usually created by an individual and used by society to move forward and better mankind. Look at any profession or scientific discipline, any philosophy or theology, any business. Good ideas are created by people like you or I and shared within and beyond the organization to the benefit of society.

The HP Palmtop Paper is the product of this process. The editors do very little writing (but a lot of editing) to bring you the best of the experts. Articles and tips come from members of CompuServe's HP HAND forum, Internet sites, HP technical support personnel, and most importantly, subscribers to The HP Palmtop Paper.

Keep an entry in your NoteTaker file dedicated to fellow Palmtop users. Next time you have a good idea about something, jot it down and send it in to us. Ideas could include:

  • How to do something better on the Palmtop,
  • A challenge you overcame using the Palmtop,
  • A product you've discovered that makes the Palmtop even better,
  • Some wonderful bit of personal wisdom that you can use the Palmtop to actualize.



This approach can and should be used in other areas of life. It's the small, good contributions that add up over the long haul, making life better for you, your family, friends and the world.

iPhone Life magazine

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