Sharpen Yer Tools!

What is tool sharpening and how it can help you enjoy your job more.

Fox Valley Computing Professionals

May 14, 2014

Kevin Gustavson

Straight North: Helping companies grow through Internet Marketing, Websites and Branding

The Basics of Tool Sharpening

git logo

Keep your knife sharp. There are few things more dangerous than a dull knife.

— Mervin Gustavson

What does tool sharpening have to do with computers?


A well maintained tool is a pleasure to use; a friend.

A neglected tool will often let you down —
when you need it most.

The Basics

Habits are powerful!

Make a short list of things that annoy you

Santa's Wish List

My List:

  • Shell: git tab completion doesn't work for all subcommands
  • Shell: codecept isn't tab-completing
  • Vim: I want Javascript files to open unfolded
  • Vim: Enable PHP Syntax checking [PSR-2]
  • Vim: Copy-Yank-Put with clipboard=unnamed
  • etc....

Making a List

  • When you encounter something that annoys you, write it on your list
  • Whenever you say, there must be a better way to do this, add it to your list
  • When you need something, but don't have time to research right now...
  • When you find yourself making the same typo over and over...

Spend 10-15 minutes every day on your list

  • Prioritize your list by agony
  • Try to complete at least one item from your list

Time to develop
a new habit

Let's make a second list

Things you are learning

  • Keep this list near your desk
    • Bad habits you want to break
    • New habits you are trying to form
    • Shortcuts you want to remember to use
  • If necessary, go back and repeat using the new method
  • Cross-off items when you complete them

Then you'll be...

  • Slowly sanding down those rough edges
  • Doing your job better and faster
  • Have greater job satisfaction

The shoulders I'm standing on

Kevin Gustavson

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