25th August 2014
Have you ever had discomfort while using a computer mouse? Shooting pains down your arm or a stiff neck or shoulder? I know I have. I always assumed it was my posture, my desk setup or just because I spent so long at a computer each day. I now believe it’s actually something much simpler: using a mouse with my right hand.
I have carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) and I’m sure a great many of you do as well - it’s very common among people who spend a lot of time at a desk, using a computer. I blame web-based content management systems which don’t support keyboard shortcuts but I suppose it could be anything. I also blamed Apple for their un-ergonomical Magic Mouse but I no longer believe that was the cause of my problems.
One of my co-workers suggested that I should try ‘going leftie’ with my computer mouse. She said she’d tried it one day when the pain of using the mouse right-handed got too much and had never moved back. I was skeptical to begin with but decided to give it a go and I too haven’t looked back since. In fact, after an initial settling in period where I’d periodically reach for empty space to the right of my keyboard, and after training my left hand to act as a pointing device, I think I can control my computer more quickly than ever before.
Keeping my right hand over the keyboard seems to not only save me from the agony of CTS since my wrist generally stays straight and my arm isn’t moving back and forth to the mouse, it also allows me to change contexts more quickly from typing to mousing and back to typing. It’s especially useful when combined with VSCO Keys for editing in Lightroom as I can use the mouse and the keyboard shortcuts together to speed up my workflow considerably.
It’s not hard to make the switch. I recommend making a change to your mouse setup to make the secondary click on the left side instead of the right so that you can ‘right click’ with your middle finger as you would normally. That seemed more natural to me than keeping ‘right’ click on the right.
At work, I use a Magic Trackpad as well as a Magic Mouse: the trackpad is on the right and the mouse on the left. I find that I use the trackpad when I’m browsing the web or doing more casual tasks which are typically one-handed jobs but as soon as I need to get on with something more serious that requires my focus, using the mouse on the left and keyboard, I am much more efficient.
I don’t have any medical basis for what I’m saying, I just know that it’s helped me. If you suffer from CTS and you use a computer regularly, I’d seriously recommend giving the ‘leftie’ approach a try.
Just think about postal mail for a second. Do you pick your letters up, look at each one and then put them back down only to pick them up and put them down again and again? This is the definition of insanity. Yet that’s exactly what most of us do with our email.
Some really good tips on dealing with email, as well as the rest of the working day. Useful whether you are a CEO, manager or just someone who finds themselves with too little time in the working day.
I especially like the look of SaneBox which is sort of like Mailbox but instead of a stand-alone app, it gives you a series of folders to move emails to for processing later. I’ve been a Mailbox fan for some time, especially now that it’s available on the Mac, however if you use Microsoft Exchange for your work email the Mailbox isn’t an option. My only reservation is around how much access SaneBox would have to potentially sensitive email.