January 26, 2009

Habits Are Hard to Break

For the past few days, I have been doing some work on a laptop computer, though my standard desktop machine has been running and being used for e-mail and other chores concurrently. The laptop is sitting on my desk, and my desktop monitor, which rests on a shelf atop the desk, is fully visible above the laptop screen. My desktop keyboard sits in a keyboard drawer under the desk. To my right is a mouse pad and mice connected to each computer. When I have been working on the laptop, 90% of my work has been done on that machine.

What has been remarkable to me while I have been working with this configuration is the fact that I cannot seem to break the habit of using the keyboard in my keyboard drawer.When using many applications, I spend a lot of time manipulating the mouse, making only occasional excursions to the keyboard. What I am finding is that I will use the laptop’s mouse and, when I need to use the keyboard, I go to where I am used to finding it, namely, in the keyboard drawer. This can be really irritating, not only because I am not accomplishing what I am trying to do, but also because the effect is to enter essentially random keystrokes into my desktop computer. Sometimes this has no effect at all, but I have inadvertently deleted mail messages this way and otherwise effected unintended changes in applications running on that computer. Yesterday, I managed to get Windows XP to hang, though I am hard-pressed to explain how.

I keep telling myself not to use the laptop keyboard, yet I keep making the same mistake. Habits, especially ones that have served you well, are hard to break.

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