Closet Coder

I work in my closet. I code. Yep.


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I always find it interesting to place artificial constraints on myself. I don’t think it’s the constraint itself that is good as much as what it shows me about myself or what I do. I read an article on Rands in Repose a few years ago that talked about giving up your mouse for Photoshop. The idea isn’t to rid yourself of the mouse entirely. The idea is to make you aware of when you depend on the mouse.

What I’ve found is that moving to VIM / tmux has made me less dependent on the mouse altogether, which makes me want to make more small hacks to make it easier to do without the mouse. I even saw that Corey Haines suggests no mouse as an exercise for Pairing. Yet again, it’s not about becoming independent of the mouse, it’s about showing you how you ARE dependent on it so you can begin to control it.

Mouse movements reduce speed most of the time (though not all the time). It’s good to use a mouse when gaming or when browsing some websites, but being able to navigate without a mouse is usually much faster (if periodically mentally taxing).

Here’s the exercise:

  • Take your mouse batteries out
  • Begin doing your work
  • When you notice that you’ve reached for the mouse, take note
  • Try to figure out how to perform your task WITHOUT the mouse
  • Spend a few times practicing doing the task without a mouse
  • Note it down so you can evaluate if it really is speedier later

There are several things that can really help with this. Here’s my set of tools and hints for getting through the Exercise:

  • Alfred is a good way to get around the mouse in a lot of situations that you want to use it.
  • On OS X, you can press CMD-? (CMD-SHIFT-/) and you’ll bring up your help search for a given application. Type in a menu command and it will be highlighted, complete with the keyboard shortcut if it exists)
  • If your menu item doesn’t have a keyboard shortcut, you can specify application specific shortcuts in the Keyboard preferences
  • Tab after typing in a Google Search will start cycling you through search result links. Enter takes you to them.
  • If you’re a developer, learn VIM

There are probably various analogous helpers and tips for other OSes, but I can’t test them now, so you’ll have to Google it yourself