I can still hear J.B. audaciously whispering “Shift+F10“whenever I would reach for the mouse to run a suite of tests in IntelliJ. Although we worked together a while ago the sound of his voice still reverberates in my head and has since prompted me to make a step improvement in the use of keyboard short-cuts in the IDEs.
I used to think keyboard short-cuts where mostly for the black-hat ninja coders who spent their entire lives immersed in code. I was happy enough with Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V, perhaps a Ctrl+Shit+B at times. Everything else was there visibly accessible with a swift move of a mouse. I didn’t worry about the pause to grab it, after all we all know typing is not the bottleneck.
What I have now realised, is that using keyboard short-cuts is not only about speed or dexterity. It enables you to tap into a very useful mechanism of our brains – the muscle memory. When you reach the level of unconscious competence executing commands or operations no longer requires a context switch of going from the keyboard and thinking about the problem to the mouse and locating the GUI elements on the screen. You save precious mental cycles and more importantly don’t interrupt the flow of thoughts thus helping concentration and ultimately improving the quality of what you deliver.