Little things cut both ways

More than a year later since my last post to my blog and my drafts folder is littered with various abandoned posts. I start with good intentions of finally writing something then after a few paragraphs of content I think “is it really interesting? Does anyone really care? Who the heck am I even writing for? … *shrug*”.

The only problem with not being prolific is that that you have less value in a little compared to hacking away at a load of garbage until you can finally revise, edit then finally cobble something together that’s substantial and coherent enough to finally hit “Publish”.

My approach to life in general is never so much “boil the ocean”, rather more along the lines of “work smarter, not harder”. This is why I have thought so much about how little yet often habits like writing, exercise, work and a number of other many things can all have such a major impact if only I can just maintain them. I want to be a runner, an archer, a fighter, an adventurer, a speaker, a cook, a better programmer, a mogul (or at least mildly noteworthy) … so many things I want to do and they clash and some things I manage to do more than others. They still are being consolidated.

While I wasn’t writing much I was at least managing to read more (got to make time somehow) and I read one book in particular called The Slight Edge which, long story short, is about the power of habits and how they can compound over time to make something major out of small yet prolific actions. To use diet as an example, something like exercise or eating healthily is easy to do and also easy not to do. The one time you do or don’t do something wont really affect much, but over time if you can keep doing something frequently it can be the difference between either building a fortress brick by brick or death by a thousand cuts.

Either way I don’t expect many people will ever read my blog and whatever I write here is easy to do and easy not to do. There’s got to be more value in consistently adding some value rather than not though, so this is where I hold myself publicly accountable to write more frequently about maybe something relevant or meandering and off topic.

Perfect or not, here goes!

Why you should learn to touch type

I see too many people “hunt and peck” the keyboard when they type. For someone like me who has learned to touch type it’s painful to watch to a point where you feel like pushing them aside and just typing for them.

There are many advantages to touch typing and is a skill I think everyone who learns to use a computer should know. It doesn’t have to take up a lot of time either and will save you a lot more time in the long run.

Some advantages include …

More time thinking about actually writing, rather then thinking about typing

Because you don’t have to keep switching attention. Although not as bad for minor tasks, it does increase things like decision fatigue and disrupting your state of flow which are bad things.

More work done faster

If your average typing speed is something like 15-30 words a minute, think how much more work you can get done if instead you learn to type 60-100+ words a minute.

Less chance of RSI

Ironically any amount of time using a keyboard increases your risk of RSI like carpel tunnel for example, but the less time you can spend hunting around for keys and stabbing them with the same fingers, the less time spent typing overall and less pressure on individual fingers because you’re using all of them instead, which means less chance of developing RSI compared to using the same two fingers.

More free time

If replying to an email takes you a couple of minutes instead of 5-10+ minutes, then think about everything else you could be doing in that time.

If you can play or want to play an instrument, it can make you a better musician

This is more my personal opinion rather then something I’ve seen evidence of,  but anecdotally, if you can learn to use a keyboard without thinking then this can be transferred to a piano or a guitar for example.

Learning to touch type

I can’t recommend any specific apps because different people will prefer different types of applications, but I would suggest searching on the Apple Store or Google Play Store for “typing tutor” or “touch typing” apps, or do the same in your app store of choice. Or simply search Google.

Personally I started by just learning to type out a single sentence to start training myself to use more than two fingers, so in my case I learned typing out “Dene is the best” as fast as I could.

The most important part of touch typing is finding your “home keys”, which on most keyboards (the QWERTY keyboard) will be F and J where the little bumps on the keys are. They are there so you can find them without thinking about it or having to search around because you can just feel for them instead.

One resource you might find useful which is intended for kids but still useful if you’re a beginner, try “dance mat typing” http://www.bbc.co.uk/guides/z3c6tfr

Remember

You might get slower before you get quicker if you’re used to typing in your own way, but eventually you will learn to type a lot faster which will save you a lot more time in the future.

Finding the time to learn, you don’t have to spend a lot of time on it. The most important thing is that you just practice, so even if it’s just 5 minutes a day you will get better overtime and again, this will save you a lot more time in the future.

Footnotes

Image credit Magnum K

Google Chrome browser extensions I can’t live without!

Well perhaps I could live without these if I really had to, but it makes life a heck of a lot easier with these rather then without.

Your mileage may vary with these extensions, but for myself they are a necessity.

Copy Link Name

Copy Link Name

Why copy a link name? Well is saves awkwardly dragging and dropping your mouse cursor to select the text. In my case for example I might want to add the link name to a list of things to look at later, or maybe I need to copy a product name to help me shop around online for a better deal.

It’s a very simple extension which means easier on your precious system resources since it just adds a menu item when you right click on a link (or Cmd click if you’re on a Mac).

Get Copy Link Name extension here.

OneTab

Save computer memory (RAM) and organise your open tabs somewhere for later use.

Basically you click the OneTab icon to send all your open tabs to a OneTab list, but you can also just send the current tab there or even all tabs except the current one.

Get OneTab extension here.

LastPass

Web browsers like Google Chrome already can save and sync passwords, so why do you need an extension to save your passwords for you? You don’t, but for me I like LastPass because I can set profiles which allow me to separate passwords I need for work and home use, so for example I wont have people at work able to snoop around things like email for example if I want them to access the work passwords I have.

I can’t do it justice, but there’s also more to LastPass then saving passwords, such as two factor authentication, generating secure passwords so they’re not easy (or impossible) to guess,

Your passwords are also safe even if someone did get access to them, because not only are they securely stored and encrypted by LastPass on the server side, but they are also encrypted and stored locally, so they’re not unlocked until they are sent from the server to your device when you enter your master password.

LastPass will tell you how secure your password is, but if you’re not convinced on why you need a secure password then try typing it in (preferably a similar made up one if you’re paranoid) at howsecureismypassword.net to see how long it could take for your password to be cracked.

Get LastPass browser extension.