Sunday, May 12, 2013

It's worth to know your tools

All of us use some kind of software, no matter are you a programmer, designer, architect or a journalist - you need to have tools to make your work done.
What I noticed, many people unfortunately don't spent any single minute to learn more about software they use. Maybe they don't want to? I believe, it's not about lack of good will. They just don't know how rich functionalities todays softwares provides and how big impact on their productivity those unknown functionalities could have.

And believe me or not, if you will sum up whole time which would be saved, because of using them, there would be lot of it.

let's look at your software

What are you seeing when you look at your software? Small windows, panels, toolbars and somewhere there is small piece of space for fruits of your labor. On smaller screens those space is really tiny sometimes. Of course you can close all those windows, toolbars etc. which I mentioned on the begining, but is it good idea?
Before you will close them all, you should stop for a while and consider if some of them are useful for you? When you will have your answer, leave open all which you are sure that should stay open and those which are still in doubt. All others needs to be closed.

Ok, so what next? It's almost always possible to hide window and leave only icon on toolbar. If so, then collapse all those which you had doubts. If you will find them useful, you can always expand them. But you need to remember to verify from time to time are those tools were really needed. If not, you should definately remove them from your toolbar.

but there is more than this...

Hopefully your screen is little bit cleaner and work space is little bit wider than before. Definitely too wide:)
We removed all useless crap and now is time for seeking a useful toolbars etc. Believe me, they are somewhere there. It's worth to spent a minutes (or even hours) and find out what usefull tools your software have. I'm not talking about reading whole documentation, because no one have a time for it, but it's worth to at least go through each menu and check what functionalities and tools are there. Maybe you can just do quick test of them and you will really love it? Maybe there will be something that you were looking for a years?

It's not about learn by heart of everything what is in there, but after this small research you will have a clue what your software provides. And maybe one day, when you will need to resolve hard problem, you will remind that there is a tool that would be helpful.

shortcuts, shortcuts, shortcuts!

Learn them all. Of course, not everything at once, but whenever you will have a need to put your hand on mouse, you should firstly google for a shortcut.
On the begining it can be anoying, but after all, when you learn all those usefull shortcuts, you will become more productive.

And one more thing, the more shortcuts you know, the more icons you can remove from your screen.

don't repeat yourself

Most of the teams got their own coding standards, you got own your coding standards, you are creating plenty of documents which are almost identical except few data and so on.
We are developers, we are using design patters and abstractions to make our code more efficient and clean. Do the same in the real world. Whenever you will copy and paste something, stop for a moment and think what kind of improvements you can do, to not repeat this steps never again.

Create templates! Templates of file, of classes, of structures, create scripts. You should use DRY principle also in your real life, not only in code.

focus on solving a problems, don't waste your time

I know that all of activities which I mentioned above looks like time consuming, but this is investment and it will pay off, you will become faster and you will do your work more efficient. And this is not an assumptions, I know it would happen.

We are looking for improvements. We wants to be a better programmers, designers, managers, we are in the process of continous learning, because we really love it. Our tools are part of our works, they are part of our passions, so it's worth to know them well.