Taking a left turn



Becoming a Left-Handed Mouse Operator

If your dominant hand is your right hand, becoming a left-handed mouse operator is a total no-brainer as a way to increase your writing and, particularly, editing productivity, but almost nobody does it!

The most common keyboard configuration is to have all of the arrow keys, the edit keys (e.g. Insert, Delete, Home and End) and the numeric keypad on the right-hand side, as shown below.


However, this means that if you use your mouse in your right hand (as almost all right-handed people do, and about 90% of the population is right-handed), you need to remove your hand from the mouse and put it on the keyboard to use those keys. In other words, you can only have your right hand on one or the other—the mouse or the keyboard—while your left hand is doing nothing! But if you swap your mouse over to the left-hand side, you can use the mouse in your left hand to move the curser around the page and your right hand on the edit or arrow keys, or the numeric keypad.

For example, if you are deleting the same word from a series of cells in a table, you can swipe the word with the mouse to highlight it, then instantly hit the delete key, without moving your right hand.

The only catch is that if you are right-handed, it will take you several weeks to get used to the fine-motor movements needed for mouse operation. You will feel totally uncoordinated at first, but you will improve with practice. It may take as long as a month to start to feel readily comfortable with it, depending on how ambidextrous you are to start with. Either practice for an hour twice a day, or else choose a slow period to work on it continuously.

There are other advantages of using your left hand to operate the mouse, the most significant of which is that you will use less pressure on the mouse with your non-dominant hand, which means that you are less susceptible to repetition strain injury. The other important benefit is that if you do end up with a stressed hand from using the mouse, or injure it, you can swap back to your right hand to give you left a rest. The third advantage is that you can use your left thumb on the left‑hand ‘Ctrl’ key and then use the keyboard keys with your right to implement shortcut keys making editing even faster.

IMAGE: Babinda Boulders, Queensland (2015) © Yelsel International Pty Ltd

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