Beverly Nelson

Increase Productivity by Building Your Muscle Memory

If you are learning Git, Vim, the infamous command-line, or a new syntax – the early stages of learning can seem frustrating. Typically, the challenge is not having an understanding of the core concepts of what you’re learning. The frustration comes from constantly referencing documentation until the syntax becomes natural.

One way to ease that frustration is by establishing a little muscle memory through repetition.

How does repetition help?

Repetitive drills aren’t a replacement for learning to code, but it does help to build the association of an action with the keystrokes. You will find your frustration decrease and learning will become easier with muscle memory established.

If you’ve been coding very long you may be able to type with lightening speed but unable to quote the keys on a keyboard in order without some thought. This is because you’ve established muscle memory.

Examples of learning through repetition

  • Shortcut Foo provides drills for learning git, vim, sublime, command line, and much more. These drills are effective in helping to master the association between keystrokes and a command. There is a free plan with limited features or you can upgrade to customize your learning with different one-time payment tiers.
  • Python Drills created for Hackbright academy to help students learn the python syntax.
  • Learn Code The Hard Way Drills Practice Ruby and Python basic syntax.
  • Anki Flashcards Create your own flashcards or check out Derek Sivers Ruby and Javascript deck
  • Brainscape Practice Git or Ruby on Rails basics on the web or download the mobile app.

Getting the most out of drills

  • Set aside a regular time to practice
  • Say the keystrokes or actions to yourself verbally as you type
  • Do not use it to replace learning to code or the usage of a tool. This is a supplement.
  • Create your own flashcards with frequently used sequences. Search for a cheat sheet on whatever you're learning as a source to create drills from.

Whether you want to increase productivity with what you already know or want to learn something new, tools like Shortcut Foo can compliment your learning by building your muscle memory.


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