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Smart Shortcuts

There's no doubt that extended periods on the keyboard are a primary cause of RSI, but for me and a lot of the people I've met who've suffered, the mouse was the villain of the piece. One trick, then, is to learn and use ways that help you minimise your time on the pesky rodent. For a start, get to know your keyboard shortcuts - they're often faster and more efficient than mouse clicks, anyway. For instance, pressing Ctrl + N in Firefox or Internet Explorer is a lot faster than clicking on File then selecting New Window. Alt + F4 is the quickest way of shutting down an Application. Alt-Tabbing your way through the open windows is a lot speedier than using the taskbar, and using Ctrl + Z and Ctrl + Y is the most efficient way to undo and redo actions in most applications.


Hot keys can be a big help, but it's still worth learning the keyboard shortcuts for your chosen application.


Get to know your common Windows shortcuts (Just Google that phrase for more details) and learn those in any applications you use regularly as well. If you've ever seen a real Photoshop or Dreamweaver whiz at work, you'll see that they do a lot more than you'd expect on the keyboard, often deploying keyboard shortcut after keyboard shortcut at dizzying speeds. That's because, with practice, it's still the fastest way to get things done. Don't forget the Windows key either. For instance, hitting it then tapping the right cursor once then clicking Enter is a nice, fast way of getting to the Vista shut-down options.

If you perform certain operations in certain applications regularly, then it's also worth getting your head around any programmable features, like Word's Macros, Photoshop's Actions or the Scripts in Paint Shop Pro. While it can take a bit of time to record and debug the steps required to, say, shrink an image to 800 x 600, run an automatic Levels adjustment then save the file as a 70% JPEG, you only need to get it right once and you can do it time and time again with just a simple keyboard shortcut. Tasks that might take minutes even with keyboard shortcuts suddenly take seconds.


Every single key on the Razer Lycosa is programmable allowing you to automate almost any action.


And don't forget that scripts and macros aren't just confined to serious applications - they can also make your life easier in games. OK, so in action games they're of limited use, but in RTS games, turn-based strategy games, RPGs and MMOs that feature some form of scripting or Macro recording, they can really prove useful. Any serious WoW player won't need to be told this. Macros can help you manage or fight more efficiently, and they can also speed up some of the more tedious tasks (building units, collecting loot) that are a part of many role-playing or strategy games. And while they're doing so, they're also saving your mouse wrist and your button-clicking finger.

Finally, don't forget to stop and rest. If you're working, blogging, surfing or image-editing, take a break every now and then to make a cup of tea or just twiddle your thumbs. If you're playing Unreal Tournament 3 online, use the pauses between games to give your wrists and fingers a rest, or why not skip just the one game and have a breather. It won't just be your muscles and joints that thank you, but your sore eyes and overworked nerves as well.

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