Saturday, February 27, 2010

Importance of saving seconds

time When you spend your professional life at a computer, there are tasks that you repeat many times a day. Checking email. Responding to email. Writing code. Testing code. Showing the desktop. Individually, each task only takes seconds and seems relatively insignificant. But combined, our little repetitive actions can waste significant amounts of time.

We can regain massive amounts of productivity by saving seconds at a time.

Take, for example, replacing a mouse behavior with a keyboard shortcut. On the surface, it seems like a simple matter of preference. Some people prefer the mouse; some the keyboard. Switching from the keyboard to the mouse, though, has a time penalty. You’ve got to reposition your hand twice (move to the mouse and back to the keyboard), you’ve got to visually scan your entire screen to locate your “click target,” and then you’ve got to precisely move the mouse to the target and click. For common tasks, this can all be done in a few seconds, but it is almost always slower than what could be achieved with direct keyboard shortcuts.

So what? What’s a few seconds? Let’s do the math:

If you can save just 2 seconds on a task you do (let’s say) 30 times a day by learning the keyboard shortcut, you save:

  • In a day, 1 minute
  • In a month, 20 minutes
  • In a year, 4 hours
  • In a 30 year career, 15 work days! 

Just saving 2 seconds a day will give you back 15 working days over a career! And that’s just you and just one keyboard shortcut. Let’s expand the math to imagine a dev team of 5 people saving 20 seconds with 10 keyboard shortcuts for common tasks performed about 20 times a day. Savings would be:

  • In a day, 33 minutes
  • In a week, 3 hours
  • In a year, 17 work days!

In just one year, a team that commits to saving 2 seconds on 10 common tasks can reclaim more than 3 weeks worth of productivity. Do you see what I mean? The seconds add-up quickly!

A personal challenge

I challenge you to join me in reclaiming your time. Find one task you’re doing everyday that “requires” you to use the mouse and find a way to replace it with a keyboard shortcut. It doesn’t have to be a big time savings to matter. A simple savings of 2 seconds is all you need to start making a difference.

A keyboard shortcut for .NET web developers to get you started

I’ve always been in the camp of keyboard shortcuts are nice, but not a big deal…until I did the math. I don’t know about you, but I want my time back. One task I always seem to be doing via the mouse when doing web development is “View in Browser.” I’m easily wasting seconds here every time I have to use the mouse to do this.

There is an easy fix. Map “View in Browser” to a keyboard shortcut:

  1. In Visual Studio, go to Tools > Options
  2. Under the Environment section, click on Keyboard
  3. Type “File.ViewInBrowser” in the Show Commands textbox and select it
  4. Click in the “Press shortcut keys” textbox and input your desired shortcut
    (I used Cntrl + ` since it’s easy use and not taken by Visual Studio or JustCode)

What are your favorite keyboard shortcuts that save you seconds everyday?


Dimitar said...

If you select Web Development or General Development settings when starting Visual Studio for the first time, View In Browse will be mapped to Ctrl+Shift+W by default.

And this is definitely the keyboard shortcut I use most in VS :)

Unknown said...

Good and interesting and well said article!By using shortcut keys and methods you can reduce the maximum time.
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