TextExpander Story_ “Mr. System” Dave Mason

TextExpander Story: “Mr. System” Dave Mason

Dave J. Mason (a.k.a. Mr. System) is a consultant who works with organizations and teams to adopt the tools, processes, and methodologies necessary to eliminate waste and do their best, most fulfilling work. He is also an Asana Solutions Partner. We caught up with him to find out more about his work and how he uses TextExpander.

Hey Dave! Thanks for chatting with us today. Can you tell us how you became “Mr. System”?

Hey! Sure, so I was running a Shopify store, and it was a model that was dependent on launching lots of new products. The tasks were quite complicated, so I started looking at tools and as is my nature, I tried out all of them!

At the time – around 2012/2013 – when I tested out Asana, it was one of the only ones that would do duplicatable templates. I used it off and on during that time, and for many years to follow.

Then back when I was working with a FinTech company, there were always things going wrong, so again, we needed a checklist. I thought, “Well, let’s use Asana!”. And it worked wonders!

What was a two day process became a two hour process, and problems that were regular turned into a rarity. And if anything did ever go wrong, it was never repeated, as it was easily identified and it got fixed.

I got certified in Asana, and very quickly realised how incredibly impactful it can be to an organisation that doesn’t have systemised ways of working.

It’s amazing the difference it made. It’s something I enjoy, and for me is ‘Ikigai’ (the Japanese word refers to having a direction or purpose in life, that which makes one’s life worthwhile); something you’re good at, something you love, something that people will pay for, something that the world needs, or some combination of those things.

So I found a business around that and Mr. System was born!

That’s a great origin story. How did you find TextExpander?

Anytime Seth Godin gets interviewed, I’m all over it. So I was listening to Tim Ferriss’ show and they were talking about how to firmly but respectfully say no. They said they get bombarded with requests so they have to have some kind of time-efficient way of saying “no” while remaining respectful.

So, Seth was talking about how he’s crafted a “boilerplate message” using TextExpander and I thought, “that sounds pretty cool”—so I checked that out and soon realized that it could do all kinds of useful things.

In what ways is TextExpander useful to you?

So, a big one is hexadecimal color codes. I do a fair bit of my own website design and graphic design. If I want to remember what the brand hexadecimal color code is, there’s four different colors that I use. I just type for example, MsGreen, or MsYellow, and just paste in the number I’ve set up under that.

Speed is another one. I’m a big fan of shortcuts. For the links that I use most frequently, I have shortcuts in TextExpander. Ctrl+L gets me to the address bar, and then ;FB goes to my brand Facebook page, for example.

Another big use is delegating tasks. I’ve got a TextExpander snippet that just pastes in a template for delegation, which would be something like “this task needs to be done because X, the resources you will need are Y, some examples are below. This should take Z amount of time” etc.

Delegation Snippet:

This task is about [[CLARIFY THE TITLE]]

This needs to be done because [[REASON WHY]]

The resources you’ll need for this task are: [[LIST THEM]]

The deliverables for this task are: [[LIST THEM]]

Here are some examples for reference: [[LIST THEM]]

The implications of this task are [[DESCRIBE]]

This should take approx [[TIME]].

Links and emails are another. Emails that are ‘NNTR’ (no need to respond); if someone’s sent you a quick email and you want the ability to just acknowledge it and carry on without having to formulate a response can really save time.

So I’d say for me, my TextExpander uses all revolve around memory and speed.

How long have you been using TextExpander?

About 2 or 3 years.

Which snippets do you use the most?

The color codes I mentioned earlier, I use a lot. Most of the apps and tools that I need to access quickly, I use TextExpander snippets because they’re quicker than bookmarks.

On the memory side of things, when I need to book appointments into client’s diaries, they usually use Calendly, so I’ll just use a little snippet. For example, “;Stacybook” or something similar.

Oh, and symbols! I can never remember the code to paste in things like the copyright symbol, so having a snippet shortcut to those is very handy.

A few additional examples: Lorem ipsum, every designer’s favorite block of text, that’s a pretty commonly used snippet. Journal entries are another. So when I’m doing journaling, I paste in a template that is easy to prompt me to start writing.

What software do you use for journaling?

It’s just an Airtable base. This is a Peter Diamandis thing, where he was basically saying that he rates every day on a scale from -2 to +2. So I do that in a table and then put a little rating next to it.

I have one form for quotes, one for articles, one for videos, one for podcasts. They’ve all got TextExpander snippets.

Now you’re giving us ideas too! Is there any other software you frequently use TextExpander in?

Filling out forms. How many times do I have to fill out my address or my work address? Snippets like ‘WAD1’, ‘WAD2’, for ‘work address 1’, ‘work address 2’ save me huge amounts of time.

When I was working with a team in the Philippines, I liked my foreign language snippets a lot. I’d say various things like “good morning”, “good afternoon”etc., Having snippets like “GM”, “GA” was really useful.

The foreign language public groups are really useful. We have Klingon in there too…

Just what I’ve always wanted! That’s cool. I love it. I’m gonna be digging through that later and finding out some more. I’ve just seen that you have public groups for HTML and CSS things as well, and WordPress shortcodes.

Do you have snippets created for your onboarding clients?

Yes. As part of my program, there is quite an in-depth survey that every member of the team fills out. For each person, in order to fill out that survey, has a unique URL that has to be generated.

I can never remember the exact URL parameters that have to be appended to the link, so that’s a TextExpander snippet. So it’ll just be “;intake”, or “;outtake”. And then it just asks me the details of the person to fill in.

That’s really handy. It doesn’t get used regularly, but it will get used every so often for about 30 people at once, so it saves a lot of time.

Onboarding emails, as well. One of the first things I have to do is email people and say, “Hey, this is who I am. This is why we’re here. This is what we’re going to be doing, etc.”

Some of this happens through active campaigns, that’s kind of automated anyway, but some of them that I do, I send them personally from my email account, just so it doesn’t seem so impersonal. So it’s definitely useful to have some balance between automation and email.

One thing I would quite like; I’ve seen some people use some pretty clever automations and things that trigger fancy stuff to happen on their computer.

Great. Thanks so much for your time, Dave. Finally, what would you like people to know about your company?

Just that I’m here to help! My job is to create order from chaos. Some of my best clients were previously in dire straits regarding their ability to collaborate effectively, meet deadlines and manage their team’s work. Many people think that their situation isn’t fixable, or that it’s too complicated to systemise, or even that they’ll never get buy-in from their team… but it’s far more common than most people realise. It all starts with a simple conversation. Reach out and say hi!