As a software developer whose entire job involves using a computer, I spend a lot of time thinking about the programs I use that help me get work done every day. Just like a carpenter who must understand how to best use his tools, it’s important for me to learn all the ins and outs of the tools I use so that I can be effective at my job. We’ve written on our blog about specific programs that we use every day, such as JIRA and HipChat, but my post today is about a more general tactic for leveraging your tools as best as possible–learning the keyboard shortcuts for every tool you use.
Every time your hands leave the keyboard to grab the mouse, time and energy is being wasted. This may sound ridiculous at first, but think about how many times each day you go from typing on the keyboard, to clicking on something, only to return to typing again. In my case, that number would be huge if I didn’t use the keyboard shortcuts that are available in almost every application I use. It was definitely hard to learn initially, but, with practice, it has become second nature. Now, not every application has great keyboard shortcuts, and some web applications don’t have them at all. Luckily, most of the apps I use every day do have solid keyboard shortcuts. Here are some of my favorites:
Gmail: Shortcuts in Gmail are amazing once you have them memorized, but they have to first be enabled in the settings. Once you’ve got them down, it’s super easy to send and reply to emails, archive emails, move them to different folders, and more. Gmail’s keyboard shortcuts are a great companion to Inbox Zero.
Sublime Text: When working with code, using keyboard shortcuts can save you tons of time. Sublime’s support for shortcuts is fantastic and allows you to be wildly productive. Check out this list of Sublime Text keyboard shortcuts.
JIRA: I had never even thought about using keyboard shortcuts in JIRA until one of my coworkers pointed them out to me recently. Now that I’ve started using shortcuts in JIRA, I don’t know how I went so long without them. They make it incredibly simple to manage issues without ever touching the mouse. JIRA has a great list of keyboard shortcuts on their help pages.
Now, here’s a tip for those of you who work on a Mac. Do yourself a favor and check out CheatSheet, a free app that lists all available keyboard shortcuts in the program you’re currently using. Garry swears by it. And if you’ve got some great shortcuts for the applications you use on a daily basis, share those tips with us below.