Monday, May 25, 2009

Keyboard Shortcuts at Work

As part of my blog, I am going to write a weekly post on things I do to enhance my productivity at work. I am doing this to both start to formulate these tools into a single "work productivity" toolbox that I can provide the folks who work for me and - perhaps - to enable feedback from more savvy readers that can help to make me more productive.

One of the items that I believe has the greatest effect on my personal productivity at work is my use of keyboard shortcuts. The ability to not use the mouse and always have my hands on the keyboard probably saves me on the order of a second for every email, every task I add to my task list and every file that I open up. The cumulative time gain is substantial as I get a substantial number of emails.

The core to my use of keyboard shortcuts has been memorizing a basic set of them for my core work tools. I put this set into a Cheat Sheet which I have published on In essence, the programs I use most often are in the sheet. This includes Windows, Outlook, Firefox (or IE as they tend to have the same shortcuts), File Explorer and several web tools (Remember the Milk, Gmail and Google Reader).

One of the other time savers that I use religiously is Launchy. Launchy will scan your documents and programs to enable you to hit [Alt]+[Space] which brings up a bar in which you can quickly type the name of a file and hit [Enter] to open it. This has a huge impact in terms of reducing the need to go through huge directory trees in order to open a file and takes little training.

I am sure I am missing a host of shortcuts in my Cheat Sheet. Because I use Outlook so much more than the other parts of the Microsoft Office suite (Excel, Word and PowerPoint), I know very few of the shortcuts for that software. I would deeply appreciate suggestions on keyboard shortcuts to learn in these applications. I am also starting to use MindManager a lot more, and have not gotten around yet to putting these shortcuts into my Cheat Sheet just yet.

I firmly believe that keyboard shortcut knowledge, along with good keyboarding skills, are becoming essential to PM work today. I have met few strong PMs who "hunt and peck". It is simply to hard to handle the volume of information and communicate back effectively without a solid knowledge of how to get around a computer.

Keyboard Shortcuts Cheat Sheet

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