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  • Writer's pictureJason Downes

33/52: Skills Bucket List (aka some shortcuts and a download)

There are a few things on the skills bucket list worth ticking off: learning another language, playing an instrument and touch typing to name a few. Maybe typing isn't a priority for you, but having the ability to type accurately and quickly without looking is very, very handy. Add to this, the use of keyboard shortcuts and suddenly, you'll find yourself a much speedier, more efficient computer user.

A bit of context: Back in 1999, I moved to England as a high school teacher and landed a permanent teaching gig as an IT Teacher (despite being trained in music teaching!). It was during this stint the kids introduced me to touch typing through a wonderful little program on the school server called "Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing". It's gamification at its best and I became obsessed with beating my last score and more importantly, surpassing the scores the kids were posting! Before I knew it, I was touch typing at a respectable speed and with very few errors. Thanks, Mavis!

So when the first lockdown started back in April, my daughter began stabbing at the keyboard with her two index fingers asking me how I was able to type without looking. I told her about Mavis Beacon and after a quick google search, I was amazed to find the program still exists and is free to download. We loaded Mavis on to her computer (PC) and it's become a part of her daily routine, with an almost instant improvement noticeable. (Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with this software and encourage you to do your own due diligence before downloading and installing it on your machine).

I picked up my keyboard shortcut skills working as a Telemarketer to make ends meet during my University days. Data entry, speed and hitting your KPIs were all essential. The mouse slows you down! Keyboard shortcuts, therefore, helped with not only data entry but the general use of the computer. Whenever a new program becomes a part of my work, I now seek out the shortcuts.

Keyboard shortcuts:

Tip 1: On a PC, use the Alt key to reveal the shortcut.

In most programs on a PC, if you hit the Alt key, a series of letters shows above the menus. If you type that letter it opens the menu, look down the menu and type the next letter for the function you need. Therefore, "Alt N, P, D" = Insert Picture.

On a mac click on the menu and you'll see the keyboard shortcut written beside it. Remember it!

Common Keyboard Shortcuts:

Here are my favourite, most-used keyboard shortcuts:

There are literally thousands of these shortcuts. You don't need to memorise them all but find the ones that help your workflow and you'll find they help you navigate your work much faster.

In this COVID, work-from-home world, keyboard shortcuts and a touch-typing tutorial might be just the thing to add to you and your kids' skills bucket-list.


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