Becoming a Keyboard Ninja: The Sticky Note Method

October 27, 2014

The keyboard, where our hands are placed most of the time (as developers), is the fastest navigation method by default. I always think devs look so slick and badass when navigating their systems without touching their trackpad/mouse. They’re like little ninjas — slick, fast and know how to move with ease.

If you’re not convinced yet, let’s break it down:

  1. Performance optimization — you care about it on your projects. Why not care about it in your workflow?
  2. Switching between tabs and windows and a keyboard and mouse is clunky and error-prone and fumbly. Like runon sentances.
  3. You’ll look like you know what you’re doing. (Isn’t that reason enough? :P)

The Sticky Note Method

Why? because a few things:

  1. It will remind you not to use it, causing you to Google alternative navigation flows (you’ll learn a lot this way)
  2. You can still easily access the trackpad by simply lifting the sticky note from below or on the edge (where you’d be accessing it anyway)

Make sure to write down new shortcuts you learn on that sticky note — use a felt tip pen so you don’t need press too hard and accidentally click on something.
When you’ve covered your sticky with shortcut reminders, put it somewhere visible for a while (i.e. next to your track pad on your laptop or on your desk). Soon, you’ll have a great collection of shortcuts you find useful, and will quickly memorize them!
To use this method with a mouse — not a track pad — put the sticky underneath the mouse to disable the motion sensor. You’ll need a separate sticky to write new commands down on.

I found this method really helpful for learning terminal and vim commands.

A few Things I’ve learned:

Some Tools to Help!

*TIP: when first practicing moving files in terminal, have a text editor with a sidebar open (⌘ cmd + k, ⌘ cmd + b) so you can visually see the changes. This is also a great way to illustrate how git works. *

More Fun Resources

This is a growing list. Feel free to contribute your thoughts and ideas on improving workflow!