Monday, 14 April 2014

4 Reasons Keyboard Shortcuts Can Save Your Life

A comment I hear plenty of times working side by side with a client goes something along the lines of, “You are fast!” and maybe an occasional, “It’s so cool to watch you work!” from the people who are interested in that sort of thing other than just the end result.  It’s most likely my good looks that are prompting people to say these things.  I am, after all, very handsome according to my mother.  Another reason why I might get these comments is because I try to move my hands as little as possible.  Who has the time to move their hand all the way off a keyboard, to the mouse, navigate up to the little buttons on top and down the menu to click, then having to go all the way back to the keyboard to finish the command?  

I'm exhausted just thinking about it.

We've got a winner!
This is where those wonderful keyboard shortcuts come in.  For the common computer user, the basic copy/paste (Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V) is all anyone really needs and will use.  Is this smart?  Is this safe?  How many times have you asked how to do something on your computer on a forum and the answer was to press Alt-f4?  That closes the application.  It’s a favorite joke amongst Internet trolls worldwide.  

Keyboard shortcuts are especially useful if you work in the creative design field, using software programs all day long, or if you want to make Internet troll pictures.  It’s the same thing sometimes. Can it really make life and workflow that much easier?  Yes, and here’s why.

     1.     You Work Faster

This is something I touched on at the beginning of the article.  Sure, I may have slightly exaggerated about how long it takes to use the mouse to get to a command that could just as easily be done pressing Fn+Shift+f9 (easy-ease in with After Effects). You’d have to right click the tiny keyframe and navigate two menu items otherwise. Not so much of an exaggeration now, is it? The importance of keyboard shortcuts is crucial because while it might not seem like a significant amount of time saved they add up pretty fast.  (So working faster allows you that much more time to read more of your favorite SWAGGER blog posts!!) This gives you an advantage over the competition for reasons such as…

     2.    It impresses clients

Instead of moving your hand to your mouse every 3 seconds as your client is on the 50th revision and eating Frito pie directly in your ear, you can be using keyboard shortcuts to ease this process. In my 9 years experience working in the creative field and using mostly the Adobe creative programs, when I use keyboard shortcuts I look like David Blaine to the clients.  How does this sorcery work? You didn’t have to drag that in-point, you only had to hit alt+[ and BAM, video trimmed. 

How clients view me
Clients cannot get enough of this.  It delights them to feel like they are working next to a REAL pro. To the person who doesn’t know the inner workings (and sometimes those who do) of how editing and graphics work, making those moving pictures or turning someone’s smooth human skin into frog skin, because Internet, is mind blowing.  One time I was editing an interview with a client, and they wanted a few sentences cut out of something the subject said.  I cut that part out and put a shot of B-roll to hide the transition and the client got giddy and said he felt like he was working in Hollywood.  This sort of impressiveness keeps the clients coming back and talking you up to future potential clients.  With all those clients how can you keep up with it all???  It’s a good thing you know your keyboard shortcuts then, because …

3.     You stay more focused

The World Wide Web, ladies and gentleman. Hit Alt+f4 to see the cat do a flip!
If you’re anything like me then congratulations, you have the attention span of a toddler that just ate a giant candy bar.  Almost every time I use the mouse it’s guaranteed that I will also check my mail.  Someone help me.  The less I move my hand from my keyboard to my mouse, the less likely I’ll check e-mail, the less likely I’ll have to go check out that cat picture RIGHT NOW, and less likely I will have just lost 30 minutes because, Internet. 

Staying focused is a key element in design.  If you get too off track you may forget some revisions.  Also, you may have thought you made a revision but you got distracted right before so it didn’t get done and then you look sloppy, forgetful, and like you don’t take the job and your work seriously.  So you’re now working double time to make up for the distractions and lost time from before.  This can make some projects tedious, bringing us to our last and possibly most important reason to use keyboard shortcuts.

     4.  Reduce repetitive strain

RepetitiveStrain injury is a real thing that can cause you pain and discomfort.  One of the most recommended ways to avoid RSI is to use keyboard shortcuts. I wring my hands and wince just thinking about this condition that if it gets too bad, can ruin your career.  That is why I say this is the most important reason to know your keyboard shortcuts.  Your livelihood literally depends on it.

So what are some of your favorite and most useful keyboard shortcuts? Let’s discuss in the comments! Subscribe to our blog for more Swagger in your life, because let's face it, everyone needs more Swagger in their life.