How to Become a Better Programmer in One Easy Step

Wean yourself off of the mouse. For some of you, hopefully very few, that will mean learning to touch type. For others that will mean becoming more comfortable with common hot keys and shortcuts. Regardless, everything you can do to wean yourself off of dependence on the mouse can only help.

Why? Well, every time you have to use the mouse you have to:

  1. stop typing
  2. raise at least one hand off of the keyboard
  3. move your hand to the mouse
  4. locate your cursor on the screen
  5. move the cursor to the location on the screen where you need it
  6. execute your action
  7. place your hand back on the keyboard
  8. resume typing

Compare and contrast this with the purely keyboard based steps:

  1. stop typing
  2. execute your action
  3. resume typing

I think using the keyboard as much as possible is a clear winner. That’s without adding yet another disadvantage for usage of the mouse…you have to take your eyes off of what you’re actually working on. I’m not trying to suggest that using the keyboard is better than using the mouse for every single action you’ll do over the course of the day. Just almost all of them.

Some may find the title of this post a bit misleading. Shouldn’t I have mentioned design patterns, or Ruby, or unit testing, or agile programming or something? Well, there are tons of posts about that kind of heady stuff, written by much smarter folks than I. On the other hand, there aren’t so many posts about the nitty gritty of being a professional developer from a Morts point of view.

Would you hire a chef to work at your restaurant if she couldn’t use knives well to prepare food? Of course not. It’s hard to even concentrate on a chef’s creativity, knowledge, experience and taste if she’s not at least competent in the basics. More than that, it says something about the chef’s viewpoint on what it means to be a chef if she isn’t willing to invest some time in mastering the basics. I used to be friends with a newly graduated chef, and it always struck me as interesting just how interested he was in his knives. Now I understand.