Dictating vs Typing

Jan 15, 2016
Joe Buhlig
~2 mins

Dictation is becoming more and more commonplace, and as the software behind it continues to get better we’ll likely see it become a bigger part of our daily lives.

It takes some practice, but once you understand the mechanics, dictating can increase your time efficiency. From texting to getting the latest Chiefs scores, there are endless uses for the technology. I use Siri a fair amount and now that “Hey Siri” is wireless in the iPhone 6S, I’ve found my use cases increasing.

Because of Siri’s current accuracy, I decided to dictate the first draft of Working with OmniFocus. I knew that I could get the ideas out of my mind much faster if I were able to simply speak them.

It was great. I plugged in my podcasting mic, turned on dictation, and went to town. I could draft an entire chapter in about 90 minutes. In 6 days I had finished the entire first draft. It felt awesome to be able to do so much in so little time.

When I reflected on that process I realized that I spent a lot of time trying to find the specific words I wanted instead of working to get the ideas out of my head. I was able to input the words so quickly that I had a hard time coming up with the words I wanted. This by itself really isn’t a big deal, but it meant that I needed to find a way to pre-process my thoughts ahead of time. In the end I spent an hour writing or typing my notes for each chapter before I dictated them, so there wasn’t much for time savings.

Since the dictation wasn’t 100% perfect, I spent quite a bit of time deciphering my original intent when editing. Not only was I trying to improve the sentences and paragraphs, but the words themselves were so far off at times that I couldn’t figure out what I was talking about and ended up rewriting the whole thing anyway.

More practice would likely improve my dictation, but the slower pace of typing gives me time to process my thoughts more clearly and reduce editing later. It helps me gain clarity faster and spend more time refining the ideas than the process. I will continue to use dictation for smaller chunks, but in my case anything long-form is better suited to typing.