In my many years of helping people with their computers, I’ve noticed a lot of people are still being ineffective with the most basic of input skills. When looked at in a single situation, poor keyboard and mouse skills might only delay people by a few seconds. But inefficient practices repeated hour after hour, day after day, and week after week can add up to hours of wasted time. So allow me to give you one very simple tip to correct a inefficiency I see very often.
When filling in consecutive fields in a computer form – for example a username and password or a street address – instead of using the mouse to click into every single field, simply use the Tab key on the keyboard. In almost every software or web site, the Tab key moves the cursor to the next field allowing you to continue typing without the interruption of using the mouse. Your hands are already on the keyboard. Taking your hand off the keyboard, your eyes off the screen, moving the mouse and clicking, then putting your hands back on the keyboard can use up at least a few seconds. That may not seem like a lot, but again over time it can add up quickly.
A simple follow-up tip is to use the Return or Enter key on your keyboard instead of clicking the “Continue” or “Next” button on forms (similar buttons include “Go”, “Finished”, “Login”, or “Done”). Again, the idea is that with a single keyboard press you can move along instead of taking the few seconds to move the mouse into just the right spot on the screen to click.
If you are currently not using the Tab and Return/Enter key effectively, pay attention and really try to use these tips over the next few days. I bet you’ll be surprised at how much time you’re saving!
If you have other questions about basic computer skills, please contact me and I’ll be happy to help!