Work Smarter, Not Harder

I have believed this motto for many years. While, yes, admittedly, I did learn it from an episode of “Ducktales”, it resonated with me. Not working hard doesn’t necessarily imply laziness, which is the first thought many have.

“I choose a lazy person to do a hard job. Because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it.”

-Bill Gates

In addition, even if it did, this quote sums it up perfectly.

The Challenge

My former employer produced PDF data sheets for every one of their products. It was a document that started out being two pages front and back but as time went on and they felt the need to include more content and to give it more of a visual feel, the document grew into at least 4-5 pages.

This document was then translated into six different languages and you were looking at anywhere from 24-30 pages worth of content to go through. The task fell to me to create these documents and many heated discussions were waged over them. Inconsistencies were aplenty, perspective can often get lost when you live inside of a document and you can’t distinguish mistakes after you’ve done all day.

The Solution

I took the time to purchase a book on Adobe InDesign, the software that we were using to create these documents. In my off time, I would study up on the software to determine new and improved ways that I could use the functionality of the software to my advantage. Knowing full well that Adobe products are chalk full of features that most would never even think about using, I began to figure this one out.

A feature called “Data Merge” became my saving grace. Through this and a combined CSV file, InDesign would auto-fill the information of a given tag with each respective value.

For instance, if I had a tag that said “title” this corresponding value would be filled in for every place that tag was. The corresponding CSV file contained that header “title” and had the product title in the six different languages. When all was said and done, InDesign would run the merge and split the document into separate files, one for each language. This produced IDENTICAL copies of the data sheet in each language, with the content matching up perfectly for each. A bit of tweaking was necessary for languages with more characters.

Taking advantage of many formulas that Microsoft Excel had to offer, I used this to create a pre-made template to plug in all textual information, which would then run simultaneously a series of functions and links to clean up any redundancies, empty spaces, or formatting issues that may have occurred. This template would also transfer over to another spreadsheet that I had made to speed up the process of entering this information on the company website, also in six different languages.

 The Result

A process that normally would have taken 5-6 hours, I managed to squeeze down into about an hour. I continually looked for ways to improve my files, often times completely throwing away earlier versions in favor of more streamlined, efficient, and more functioning ones.

Because of this, I saved the company numerous man-hours from a constant stream of edits and entire reworking of documents.