efficient habits and conventions
Here we talk about things that we do to ensure that we operate effectively and efficiently.
- Ergonomic Efficiency
Our work is difficult enough without ergonomic shortcomings holding us back. So, whenever possible, we use mouse rather than touchpad, external key-board rather than built-in and big screen rather than laptop screen.
- Know you hotkeys!
For programs you use on a daily basis, you can really improve your efficiency by learning the hotkeys for things. For example, in VS Code ALT + Left Arrow takes you back to the previous place you were editing, CTRL + S saves and CTRL + SHIFT + ` opens a new console.
Some general hotkeys everyone in this century should know because they are so widely used are:
CTRL+S = save
F2 = rename
F5 = refresh
CTRL+Left / Right Arrow Keys = jump to next word
CTRL+Delete / backspace = Delete whole word
CTRL+Home = jump to very beginning
CTRL+End = jump to very end
Shift+Enter = Special add new-line
… and if you don’t know the following, under what rock have you been living?
CTRL+F, CTRL+Shift+F, CTRL+Z, CTRL+Y, CTRL+X, CTRL+C, CTRL+V
Some useful Windows / Microsoft ones are:
CTRL + SHIFT + ESC = Open task manager
Windows Key + R = Run…
Windows Key + L = Lock Screen
Windows Key + D = Show desktop
F12 = Save As
- Remote like it’s 2023
When we meet remotely, we do it using current day technology. We have proper webcams, clear audio and visual feeds, a proper internet connection and a quiet background. When we meet with customers, we are wearing appropriate business attire and have a professional background filter up.
- Writing Dates and Version Numbers
We write dates like this: 2021-11-25. In other words YYYY-MM-DD. Like this, we can arrange by date to get a useful sequence. The exception is when we are communicating with a person from the US or a group of persons that may include a person from the US: In such a case we write 25 Nov 2021 just to eliminate any ambiguity.
We NEVER name files xyz_new.pdf or something, but always use a version number like xyz_v01.pdf.
- Password Managers
We make use of password manager software because it provides valuable efficiency and security and can help us avoid embarrassment. We recommend BitWarden.
- Locking your screen
When you are away from your PC, lock your screen so that others can’t access your private information while you are away.
- Finish your thoughts: don’t be an interruption victim.
It’s great to work in a team and that we can ask each others’ inputs all the time. If you’re any good, then before long a colleague, or even a client, will contact you every now and again to ask you about something. And you should help them. However, don’t fall into the trap of always dropping everything immediately to give them your full attention. Instead: tell them “Just give me a minute” and try to finish whatever you were in the middle of. As in, if you were typing something, finish your paragraph. If you were writing code, at least finish writing the line, etc.
You will find in many cases, that in the 3 minutes that someone waits for you, they often find the answer they need all by themselves.
- Don’t get stuck on the same problem for hours
In our work we often run into bugs or other issues to which the solutions seem difficult and elusive. As a rule of thumb, you should first try things that you can think of yourself, then spend an hour or two googling for solutions to the problem. If still no solution is forthcoming, see if someone in our team can help you, even if it is just to Rubber Duck. Now, if no one in your team can help you, think if there’s someone in your personal network you can call to ask for help. Maybe you have a friend or mentor from college who is a strong coder and might be able to help.
When even that fails, post the question on an appropriate forum like Stack Overflow. Posting a good question is actually quite a mission since you should be providing references and example code and explain clearly what you need. Make sure to follow the appropriate guidelines provided by the forum. Often, you’ll discover the solution to your issue while working through the mission of writing a “good” question for the forum.
Have a good night’s sleep, come back to see what treasures the internet yielded to your question. If still nothing is forthcoming, start thinking of possible work-arounds to the problem.
- Good passwords
Use good passwords. Learn from the below comic. Simple but long passwords are much stronger than tricky but short ones. If you use a password manager, you don’t even really need to remember passwords but still be careful to use strong passwords and to not re-use the same password too much.