'Should I be able to learn how to be more productive at work?'
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A few weeks ago I was talking to a colleague about terminals, workflow, and naturally I steered the conversation to Vim. For those who aren't aware, I've been using Vim, and more recently Neovim, as my primary editor and really enjoy it, to the point that using a different editor can be quite frustrating as I need to re-learn how to do things.
I'd mentioned that I'd blogged about getting started with Vim and that I'd recommend it even just to have some more appreciation for it, and being able to do a couple of basic things when you're inevitably forced to use it. Although this example centred around Vim, we did talk more generally around generally looking to improve your workflow and efficiency with tools or habits
We were talking about whether it could be considered fair to spend work time learning how to be more productive. I gave the caveat of "I'm not your manager", but that I thought it was absolutely fair to be investing in your skills during work hours.
As written about in Does the tech industry thrive on free work?, I don't think it's fair to expect folks to do free work outside of work. Although it's something that you may want to do - and are still very free to do - outside of work hours, from my point of view it's fair to be learning it during work hours, if it's going to make you more productive, or improve your skills, because your company will gain the benefit of your productivity.
During work, we expect people to become more proficient in their technical and social skills, including their knowledge of how to write, test and debug code better. So why would editing code not be included in that? It's something I see as an equal pillar to the others, and that we should be investing in.
I've found it so handy to have a collection of workflow-related tools, like
jwt to unpack a JSON Web Token, or
p to paste from the clipboard, as well as customising my directory structure for the work I do. It helps me work better, which then means my time is more effectively used for the company.
That being said, I wouldn't recommend folks switch to an editor or tooling they're completely unfamiliar with, and not be willing to appropriately fall back to known tools when they're finding they're hitting blockers. Following the example of Vim, I'd recommend using Vim keybindings in your current editor of choice, or browser, as a way to start gaining a bit of familiarity with it, without being all-or-nothing. Trying to use it for a few simple edits, like Git commit messages, or small shell scripts, where you don't need to have a full IDE-like experience. But if you're finding you're spending literal days getting everything set up - on work time - before you can even start working on a piece of work, you're probably going a little too far.
Like with many things, it's a case of being respectful of your time, your employer's time, and being careful of not taking the piss.