Being Productive

Being Productive

Intro

In this blog post, I have jotted down some of my methodologies, tips & tools to stay productive.

Do remember that the following took several years to become part of my daily workflow. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t follow everything. Pick things that make sense to you and improve as you go along.

Finally, if you have any questions or doubts, feel free to ping me on my twitter. I’ll be happy to answer your questions.


Basic Navigation

  • You should know these quick navigation shortcuts by heart!
  • This will speed up your editing considerably!
  • Practice them as much as you can.
  • They work almost everywhere by default!

Must know shortcuts

Action Shortcut
Jump to the start of the line CTRL + A
Jump to the end of the line CTRL + E
Jump forward by one word ALT + ➡️
Jump backward by one word ALT + ⬅️
Extend selection towards the left by a word ALT + SHIFT + ⬅️
Extend selection towards the right by a word ALT + SHIFT + ➡️
Delete a word before the cursor ALT + DEL
Delete (Kill) till the end of the line from the cursor CTRL + K

Additional Shortcuts

Action Shortcut
Select text till the end of the line CTRL + SHIFT + E
Select text till the start of the line CTRL + SHIFT + A
Select text from the cursor to the beginning of the paragraph ALT + ⬆️
Select text from the cursor to the end of the paragraph ALT + ⬇️
Move to the top of the document/page CMD + ⬆️
Move to the Bottom of the document/page CMD + ⬇️

Tools of the trade

Alfred

Why Alfred

  • Simply put, it’s my go-to application for searching, recalling, automation, etc.
  • If you already use spotlight, think of it as a 10x better spotlight.

How to install?

  • Go to their website.
  • Download the latest setup file.
  • Follow the instructions here.
  • I highly recommend that you replace spotlight with Alfred instead. Check out this link on how to do that.

Should I buy the powerpack?

  • Short answer - Yes.
  • You only have to pay for it once. And it’s totally worth it!
  • While Alfred is free to use, some additional features are paid.
  • I highly recommend that you buy the powerpack and install it.

Alfred Features

First of all, get familiar with the Alfred dashboard:

Application Search

  • <alfred hotkey> => adobe xd

Files/Folder Search

  • You can search for files/folders on your computer.
  • <alfred hotkey> => type your query

Add any folders you’d like to additionally search for in Features > Default Results > Search Scope

If you wish to search a word within files, prefix your query with in

Example: in lenovo

Web Search

As you can see above, I’ve added g as the keyword to limit my search scope to Google.

  • g <search query>

It’ll open a new tab no matter where you are with the correct search results page in your default browser.

Similarly, I can search for anything on the web. For example, I have added a custom search query to search google images

You can even set up your own custom searches. Check out this guide for more: https://www.alfredapp.com/help/features/web-search/custom-searches/

Define: find the meaning of the word

  • define productivity
  • If you press enter, it’ll show you the detailed meaning.
  • Very useful to learn words on the fly
  • Spell: Suggests correct spelling.
  • spell bazuka
  • If you press enter, it’ll paste the correct spelling if you are in an editor

Chrome Bookmarks

Make sure you have enabled Chrome in the "Web bookmarks” search feature.

  • Note the keyword (change it if you like). I’ve kept it as bm in short for BookMarks
  • bm mayank zoom

Clipboard History

  • A very useful feature to search whatever you have copied.
  • Very handy to keep your clipboard history around with you.
  • There are two ways to access it, via hotkey or via keyword.
  • I suggest you bind a hotkey that makes it very easy to access it as you’ll be accessing this very very often!
  • You can even search for images that you have copied.

Alfred Snippets

  • Use it to store permanent information like your email address, phone number, passport number, some code snippets, etc. Basically, any text that you copy-paste often (Except passwords, don’t store passwords here)
  • My keyword to search for snippets is s
  • Also, note I have checked the option to auto expand if the keyword matches.
  • In above you can see I have created a snippet to convert  #hsemail to my helpshift email. So wherever I’ll type that, it’ll expand into my email. You can keep whatever keyword you wish.

I recommend you prefix them with a symbol and create hierarchies like

  • me:email
  • hs:email
  • wife:email
  • etc
  • That way you can either search for it or type them and it’ll expand accordingly. I use it to store almost everything!
  • You can also create rich text snippets. So when you paste them it’ll paste with the format you have selected:
  • You can also add dynamism to your snippets. Here’s an example:

Calculator

You can do quick calculations using the calculator.

  • Start your calculator by pressing =
  • Note: If you press enter, it’ll copy the final calculation, then you can paste it as usual.
  • If you want to carry over the calculation, end it with = again
  • You can also enable the advanced calculator for more complex maths in Alfred's Features > Calculator preferences.
  • The advanced calculator uses GCMathParser and can be used by prefixing your calculation with the equal sign =:
  • You can perform the following calculations with it: sin, cos, tan, log, log2, ln, exp, abs, sqrt, asin, acos, atan, sinh, cosh, tanh, asinh, acosh, atanh, ceil, floor, round, trunc, rint, near, dtor, rtod
  • For more: https://www.alfredapp.com/help/features/calculator/

System Commands

  • Run Various System Commands from anywhere. Useful available commands:
  • Trash
  • Emptytrash
  • Logout
  • Sleep
  • Restart
  • Shutdown
  • Mute
  • Check Alfred > System > Settings for more options

Alfred Workflows

  • Note: This is a bit advanced feature. Skip if you are new to Alfred or not a developer. Come back later when you are comfortable with other tips on this page.
  • Workflows allow you to add additional functionality that is not available out of the box.
  • These workflows are written by community members and published for free.

You can search for new workflows here:

Example workflows:

Strip Clipboard Formatting (Extremely useful):

  • Download Link
  • Use this to copy and paste any text you have copied from somewhere on the web that has formatting that you’d like to strip away easily.
  • I highly recommend that you assign it to some hotkey as you’ll use this very very often!

Case Converter (Very useful):

Google Chrome History (Very useful):

Evernote:

URL Shortner:

  • Use this to shorten a URL on the fly:

Spotify Mini Player:

Show Network Info (Like IP Address etc) (Useful for Devs):

String Operations (Useful for Devs):

Unicode Symbol Search:

Search for Unicode symbols by their name:


Hyper Key

If you’re anything like me, you like keyboard shortcuts. I like to set up custom shortcuts and macros to automate everything I can. The problem is that the most convenient keyboard combinations are already in use by the OS or by user applications.

That’s where the Hyper Key (also sometimes called a Super Key) comes in. Basically: Get rid of the useless caps-lock key and turn it into a new modifier key that isn’t used by anything else.

Step 1: Install the software

Head on over to Karabiner-Elements home page to download and install the version for your version of macOS.

Step 2: Remap caps-lock key

  • Open Karabiner-Elements.
  • Switch to the Complex Modifications tab.
  • In the Rules section, click the Add rule button at the bottom left of the window.
  • One of the default example rules is the one we want.
  • Click Enable next to the example Change caps lock to… rule.

Test it out

At this point, whenever you hold your caps lock key, it’s the same as if you were pressing CMD+CTRL+OPTION+SHIFT.

You can test this out with the EventViewer. From your Menu Bar, click the Karabiner-Elements icon and select EventViewer.

Practical Applications

  • Use this to assign keyboard shortcuts to your custom workflows or Alfred features.
  • For example, you can assign hyper + c to clipboard history searcher.
  • You can assign hyper + a to strip clipboard formatting Alfred workflow.
  • Since hyper will never conflict with anything else, you can use it to come up with your own keyboard shortcuts!

Reference Article: https://www.nadeau.tv/post/configure-hyper-key-osx/


Supercharged Browser Navigation

Basic Browser Shortcuts

(Just in case you are not aware of them already)

  • Ctrl+Tab => Next Tab
  • Ctrl+Shift+Tab => Previous Tab
  • Cmd+r => Reload page
  • Cmd+w => Close tab
  • Cmd+t => New Tab

Moving to frequently used tabs

  • CMD + 1 => First Tab
  • CMD + 2 => Second tab and so on… (Works until 9)
  • But beyond 4-5th tab it’s hard to use it easily
  • Hence, pin your most frequently used tabs and keep them as first few.
  • For example, I have pinned my Gmail account as the first pinned tab.
  • Now I can always navigate to it by pressing CMD + 1

Switch to the previous tab

  • Install this extension - Alt + Q Switch Recent Active Tabs
  • Go to chrome://extensions/shortcuts
  • Set the custom keystroke to whatever you are comfortable with
  • I personally use CMD + D
  • Now whenever you press CMD + d, it’ll switch you back and forth between last tab.
  • Very handy when you are working between tabs!

Search for your tabs

  • Install this extension - Quick Tabs
  • Shortcut: CMD + E
  • Lists all the open tabs in Chrome across all of your open windows
  • Tabs are listed in most recently used (MRU) order and it excludes the current tab
  • Add a space at the start or end of your search string to search bookmarks along with tabs
  • Add two spaces at the start or end of your search string to search only bookmarks
  • Add three spaces at the start or end of your search string to search browser history

Example Quick Back and Forth Navigation

  • Let’s say I am working in some tab and I wanted to check my email.
  • I’ll switch to Gmail by pressing CMD + 1 (as I have pinned it as my first tab)
  • I saw some email which has a link where I need to reply. I clicked on it
  • As it opened in a new tab and it is loading, I’ll switch back to my Gmail by pressing CMD + D again.
  • I’ll delete that email by pressing D (as I am done).
  • Now I’ll jump back again to that new tab CMD + D
  • Once I finished my work, Closed the tab CMD + W
  • Finally, I’ll switch back to where I was at the start by CMD + D

Open Tabs next to the current one

Saving Browser State

Use it if your browser looks like this

  • With this extension, you can do something like this:

Other Useful Chrome extensions

CrxMouse Gestures

Use it to assign mouse gestures to actions. Example:

  • right click + up drag => close tab
  • right click + down drag => new tab
  • right click + up then down drag => reload tab
  • right click + left drag => go back in tab history
  • right click + up drag => go forward in tab history

Grammarly

  • Extremely useful for spell checks etc.
  • Although it is paid, the free version is also good.
  • The paid version is quite useful though!

Speed Dial

  • Use it to customize your new tab experience

Magnet

  • Download this from mac store: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/magnet/id441258766?mt=12
  • Use it to quickly resize your application windows either by dragging the window by mouse to left/right (split by half) or to the top (maximize)
  • Or you can do it via keyword shortcuts as well.

Hazel

  • Download hazel from here: https://www.noodlesoft.com/
  • Use it to automatically organize your files.
  • I use it to keep my downloaded files sorted into various folders automatically at the end of the day.

Here’s an example rule to move any PDFs inside the download directory to PDFs folder at the end of the day

Todoist

  • Install the app here: https://todoist.com/
  • I use it as my personal task tracker.
  • It’s also extremely useful to track one-off tasks really quickly as it understands natural language
  • The default shortcut to create a task is cmd + shift + a
  • It also understands recurring tasks, specific days etc

Notion

  • https://www.notion.so/
  • I use it as my personal board tracker.
  • I use Todoist to capture random tasks to file them somewhere
  • And notion boards to track all my work-related tasks

Keyboard Maestro

Example Macros

Kill till the start of the line

Type whatever is in the clipboard

  • Extremely useful in typing stuff where websites don’t allow you to paste!

Other Keyboard Maestro Macros:

Other Useful Apps

Cleanshot

  • Website: https://cleanshot.com/
  • Awesome app to take screenshots, gifs, videos, etc
  • I have replaced the default image capture tool with this one as it’s quite feature-rich and really useful!
  • The best part is, it’s a one-time purchase that includes upload to the cloud.

SetApp

  • Website: https://setapp.com/
  • A subscription-based platform to try/use any amount of apps for a fixed cost
  • If you are not sure of what apps to use etc, use this for a few months, try out various apps, and then buy them if you really like them.
  • That way you don’t have to pay for every app before you like them.
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