Five Ways to Boost Your Productivity with a Keyboard

You can’t get by with just the mouse.

For more and more of us, computers are an integral part of our daily life and a key component of how we get things done.

We send emails. We surf the web. We post to Facebook. We tweet. We write. We code. We chat. We journal. We pay the bills. We send invoices. We learn. We research.

Personal computing took off in 1984, when Apple released the Macintosh and brought the mouse to everyday users. Graphic user interfaces were revolutionary, but if you want to maximize your proficiency with the computer, using the mouse/trackpad isn’t enough.

You need to know how to use the keyboard.

Photo courtesy of © Adobe Stock / Brian Jackson

Here are five ways that using the keyboard will help you be more productive on the computer.

  • Learn to touch-type. If you don’t know how to touch-type, learn. Seriously. It’s the best way for you to increase your productivity at the computer. As a bonus, you’ll also reduce both the physical and mental stress to get work done.
  • Learn the keyboard shortcuts. Once you learn to type without your fingers leaving the home row, try to leave them there. It’s faster to hit ⌘I at the beginning and end of a word than to move the mouse twice in search of the button or menu item that will italicize text. Every time you switch between the keyboard and mouse, your brain has to change gears, too.
  • Create your own keyboard shortcuts. An application is given keyboard shortcuts for the most commonly-used tasks. If you use menu items that don’t have keyboard shortcuts, you can define your own in System Preferences. Open the Keyboard preference pane and click on the Shortcuts tab, then App Shortcuts on the left. Want a keyboard shortcut for something the app developer didn’t even think of? Keyboard Maestro is your friend.
  • Create custom keyboard macros. No matter how fast you type, TextExpander can type faster. What do you type over and over? Your email address? Today’s date? Looking up emoji? Figure out what you could turn into a macro and let TextExpander do the heavy lifting.
  • Learn the modifier keys. What happens when you click or drag is often modified when you hold down shift, option, control, or command. (This is why they’re called modifier keys.) Sometimes, the cursor will change to reflect the modified behavior; sometimes, you just have to experiment or read the manual.)

Your mouse is good at some tasks, especially if they’re spatial. Graphical user interfaces revolutionized the way we use computers because they made some very complex tasks easier and enabled some things you just couldn’t do before. Can you imagine using MacPaint with just the keyboard?

The keyboard and mouse are both tools for user input. They both have their uses. For anything involving text, the keyboard wins, hands down.

Question: How do you increase your productivity at the keyboard? Share your thoughts in the comments, or on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook.

About

Colter writes software and blogs about personal growth and productivity. He lives in Silicon Valley (California) with his wife and children, recently took up golf, and watches mostly British TV shows.

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