In court reporting, to build your river of outlines, you have to take each individual droplet of knowledge, incorporate it into your writing, and add it, drop by drop, to your dictionary. That’s a tall order. There are so many words in this steno world of ours.
You should spend most of your time working on the terms that appear most frequently on your drills and tests. They show up the most. They deserve the most attention.
Often, though, you can learn a large handful of words in about the same time that it takes to learn one or two.
Families of related outlines make it easy to learn large amounts of new steno outlines in very short time. Many of us learned “sheriff,” “bailiff,” and “plaintiff” at the same time because their outlines were similar. Mine were SL-F, BL-F AND PL-F. The StenEd outline for “girlfriend” GOIF doesn’t make much sense unless you realize that it is a variation of the BOIF for “boyfriend.” Once you know that, the outlines make sense, stick together as a family, and are very easy to memorize.
Phrase families are everywhere. If you know “do you know,” then you know how to do the “do you” part of every similar phrase, and all you have to learn is the last word. Once you know the “do you” phrases, one small modification turns it into “did you,” “can you,” “will you,” “do I” and other similar families.
I would always spend most of my time learning the outlines for the most popular words and phrases, but learning families makes it relatively easy to absorb large numbers of new briefs and phrases in short periods of time.