You know those weeks when it feels like you don’t have time for anything? This was one of them for me. With more to-dos than I could ever complete, and my ratio of urgent to non-urgent tasks tipping in the wrong direction, I wasn’t sure when I would find the time to write my Daily Muse column.

My solution? Over the course of the week, I’ve written it during my daily 15-minute walking commute to work. To be more specific, I dictated it to my phone during my commute to work.

It’s not the first time I’ve tried this. And while I may receive more than one surprised look from passersby, I now consider the talk-to-text feature my phone’s greatest superpower. And if you use a smartphone, chances are you’re carrying around that superpower in your pocket, too!

I’ll be honest—the best use for this feature is not article writing (though it is doable), but it’s great for answering quick emails or sending text messages on the go. With talk-to-text, you don’t have to take your eyes off the sidewalk, and you can send a message far more efficiently than you could by typing. In fact, I sometimes use talk-to-text to email from my phone even when I’m not on the go, since it’s so much faster than typing it myself.

A few tricks to get the most out of your phone’s superpower:

  • Articulate and speak clearly into the microphone. The lack of typos will be well worth it.
  • Speak your punctuation. This feels weird at first, but you’ll get used to it—and again, the lack of editing you have to do later makes it worth it. For example, try saying: “Hi Karen comma new line how are you doing question mark.”
  • Do a sentence or two at a time. This speeds up your phone’s response time and makes it easier to correct any mistakes. This is more important when on 3G or 4G, as longer segments will take much longer to process.
  • If you’re using an iPhone, look out for words with a dotted blue line underneath—these are words that your iOS thinks might be incorrect. Tap them, and you’ll see one or more alternatives you can choose from (e.g., “there” or “their”).

To use the talk-to-text feature on your iPhone, click on the area where you’d like to add text to make the keyboard come up. You’ll then be able to click on the microphone icon to activate, and speak into the phone.

Pro tip: You can switch languages under Settings > General > Siri, which includes U.S. versus U.K. spelling differences.

For Android phones, you can also activate talk-to-text using Settings > Language and Keyboard > Android Keyboard > Voice Input.

Tell us in the comments, has talk-to-text dictation work for you?

Photo of woman using courtesy of Shutterstock.

Updated 6/19/2020