I listened to a podcast recently which got me thinking about free versus paid software and online services. I’ve blogged about free software and alternatives to commercial programs before but Tracy Holt made a great point on The Techie Geek Podcast 90. Tracy and Russ were discussing freeing up space in web email accounts rather than paying for unlimited storage. Tracy ran through his lengthy routine for archiving emails then admitted he would have been better off paying $50/year for unlimited email storage which he does now:
‘My time is probably worth more than all the time I spent trying to free up space’
He’s right and that applies to software as well as online services, particularly if you run a small office/home office (SOHO). If buying software or online services or upgrading from free to premium versions is going to save you time in the long run, that precious time saved is also going to make you more productive and you should earn more in the same time available. So far this has definitely applied to me in my day job as a freelance copy editor. For example, I’ve invested a small amount in two commercial macros for MS Word which both save me a lot of time in the long run.
MegaReplacer is a batch search and replace macro for Word. You add a bunch of words you want to search for in a file and their replacements, for example, commonly misspelled words and when you run the macro it goes through the file prompting at each occurrence whether you want to replace it. It’s essential for an editor. Without the macro, you just can’t do that quickly and you’ll most certainly miss some words anyway.
ReferenceChecker is a macro for Word to spot inconsistencies between reference citations in text and the reference list. It’s not important to understand exactly what the macro is doing unless you’re a copy editor, but believe me, it’s a lot quicker than going through the text manually and checking each citation against the reference list, and vice versa.
So particularly if you run a small office/home office, consider investing in commercial software or add-ons and weigh up the differences between premium and free versions of software and services and see if the increased productivity they’ll bring will save you money in the long run.
Have you invested in commercial software or add-ons, or paid for online services to increase productivity? Let us know below.