Wm and vim users: what is your productivity secret?

My question to you wm, key bindings, vim, and other keyboard slappers: what is the thing that changed your productivity = more time for life outside work :grin:

Right now I am fully into using my window managers and key bindings to quickly switch/move windows. I have also spent some time on my config to setup my workspaces for specific tasks. The next step for me was using vim, and started editing a lot of my docs in vim including latex files. I am still working on getting faster, but I can see the appeal once you get how it works. The beginning is hard, I am getting there.

Right now I am trying to figure the fastest way to bookmark my folders and open files on the fly using keybindings via terminal with ranger or via vim directly. Everyday I mostly open the same directories. Wondering if there is a way to bring it to the next level of productivity.

If any tips pop up here, I am all ears…

Don’t tell me to use emacs, or is that worth it!?

In my oppition emacs has the most bizarre keybinding there is. Unless you relocate Ctrl to CapsLock or use a special keyboard then your fingers will hurt.

I also do not use vim because I was never able to learn the keybindings. Mostly because I do not use english qwerty keyboard and that makes it a little bit more complicated.

You can set your own bookmarks in ranger using m<any> and then access it with '<any>. Look at the keybindings.

For WM I use i3wm. The important thing was to set super key as the requirement for any keybinding action done by the wm. The reason is that many applications have their own keybinding that relly on ctrl or alt. Then the most common key combination are located on the left side of the keyboard so I can use them only with my left hand while I sometimes use mouse as well (the goal of wm is to not use mouse at all but I sometimes the mouse is more convinient) - the left hand is still on the same place whether the right hand is operating mouse or ‘jkl’ keys.
super+q closes window
super+shift+q turns i3wm into “logout” mode and then s shuts down PC or r for restart
super+1to9 swithes to different desktop - use them a lot
super+F1toF5 lauches the most common applications like web browser or file manager
super+d start dmenu so that I can access anything else
super+x splits tilling vertical/horizontal

Less common shortcuts can be left for the right hand like super+p restarts dunst.
Or vim-like navigation super+j that can be done on keyboard or it can very well be done with the mouse.

I think for wm it is very importat to use different desktops and not to cram everything to just one. 3-4 windows on one destkop is reasonable maximum for them to still be useful. It is also easier to navigate between then when there are not too many of them in a single view. 5 virtual desktops is usually enough for me.

I think it is possible to save the windows and their layout when you shutdown your computer if you mostly use the same stuff but I never played with it. It is pretty easy to open any window when you have the correct shortcut and in a moment the mussle memory will help with that.

Edit: Just remembered this video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AKGXZ1ReU54.
If you want to you could try some non-classic keyboards to help with the writing speed. I personaly found out that my mussle memory does not allow to switch to the new keyboard (or at least it is too difficult for me to learn it).

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I guess the secret is to just work with it and notice tasks that you redo a lot and find something to solve that. At some point there also isn’t that much to improve anymore. I haven’t changed much about my working routine in some months. Also, keep in mind, that being able to work faster doesn’t mean it’s better than taking it slow. I sometimes notice that, back when I was programming in Visual Studio at work, having some downtime between actions can help you put things into perspective.

A co-worker is doing everything with a mouse and is two finger typing stuff, while working with normal Windows and he still is incredibly fast in finishing his work, because he does things precise and well thought out, even while working slow without productivity improvements.

I often notice that with other colleagues they tend to try to be as fast as possible while doing their and it often forces them to slow down regardless. All I want to say, is, being more productive (in this case being faster inside the work environment), isn’t automatically better.

I used Sway for a few months and I didn’t notice any change in productivity even if I used keyboard shortcuts. This may be caused by the applications I use, I kept using Firefox, LibreOffice, Nemo (a GUI file manager) and nano. Mostly first two and I couldn’t change that.

I started playing with that, to have terminal on 1, firefox on 2, file manager on 3, thunderbird on 4, and these start automatically when in login.

I am also thinking about working on focused tasks and maximum 2 tiling Windows at a time. Nowadays there are too many distractions, I am hoping to read less emails and only set a time in day to respond and work on workspace 4 etc.

Somehow I have a hard time remembering these, so what I did was mapping my most commonly used program using Meta+Ctrl+letter, like f for Firefox, t for thunderbird, etc.

I also use d-menu, but maybe will try rofi. I configured my i3 from scratch with some help using things I like from the eos got i3wm config file.

This is tricky. I tried it but am not familiar yet with all the keybindings. I think they are supposed to be vim like, so it integrates well with vim.

Thanks for all the inputs!

Exactly! I want to get rid of tasks I do over and over and just keybind it. I realize clicking my way through my GUI file manager is super slow and frustrating to me. And somehow I am not effective in the terminal with cd. Ranger might be the answer perhaps. Right now I am dabbling when I find a moment once a week.

One suggestion I can give to newbie to vim or other keybinding programs is to take it slow first and just learn a couple of essentials, perhaps four keybindings. Then practice, for example tweaking the i3wm config file is ideal for that if you set it up from scratch as you will initially spend quite some time.

I also like latex in vim, then it opens a PDF as tiled right window and updates while I type. Now I need to figure hi to get automated text filling to recognize some of the code I am typing like in Textstudio. Some time I still switch to gui when I don’t have time to learn further and it is more convenient.

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I have heard emacs is clinically dangerous :rofl: that’s why I started with vim, keybindings made no sense to me. I know one can tweak or use other things like doom emacs. It’s the same for window managers, some clicked with me instantly like i3 and other don’t like awesome wm. I like to use the default keybindings as much as I can, less time spent reconfiguring everything. I still have awesome as a session to play in it, but still not entirely my thing. Dw is totally my cup of tea, except the patching and everything in C, hard for me to configure my desktop or fix if I break something. Not sure I will go suck less anytime soon.

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I read about it but that behaviour sounds wrong to me. What if I want terminal next to a web browser for some quick action. This “dedicated desktop for certain apps” makes the system less flexible in my opinion.

And when you remember those keys then you must not change your favourite browser - f for Librewolf or f for Chrome. :rofl:

Then you can change ranger.rc file and for example use B<any> to make bookmark and b<any> to go to bookmark. Or there is another section with permanent “goto” commands g - For example on my system gh==“go home”, gd==“go downloads”, gc==“go .config”,…

The most difficult part is to think about which key combination makes sense for you and change the defaults. And then learn it. :sweat_smile:


You can of course move the terminal window next to Firefox, but first time opening it would go in workspace 1 and focus there. Since my apps start automatically on boot, I just have to click CRL+Shift+2 to move it. But not everyone likes that behavior for sure.

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Agree on terminal. I feel terminal set on 1 wrong ( that my opinion only ) Your system your rule. :+1: Terminal best set free.

Work around have two terminal ( 1 fix ) second free to open any where .

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Was thinking exactly the same. :grin:

I have Konsole, then install alacritty for some fun.

When it comes to accessing the same directories all the time, try zoxide, which is in the arch repos. It remembers which directories you visit and lets you reach them with just a fragment of the name. For example, to get to my Downloads dir I just type z down and it takes me there. It was a gamechanger for me.


For me it’s not really about productivity per se but more about making things less tedious. When I switched from Sway to KDE I just couldn’t live with the default floating setting, so I had to download a tiling script (bismuth). Not because it increases my productivity or anything, but it’s definitely less annoying than constantly moving and rearranging windows.

For similar reasons, I use vim keybindings on emacs, not because of vim superiority, but because it’s better than having no keybindings at all for (in my opinion) essential tasks such as going back 3 words.

I switched away from traditional desktop environments in January 2020 iirc.

At that time the appeal to me was ricing, but thirty months later, I feel the secret is the mindset window managers put you into. You make some part of your own scripts. You bring in different pieces and glue them together. You get to know different tools you can use. Etc etc.

Whenever I saw myself doing something repeatedly, I’d think if I could script it.

My system isn’t the best, but its suited to me.

Talking of Vim, I tried it, but personally didn’t see its appeal to my workflow. I still know the basics, because its much better imo as compared to nano if i’m in the terminal editing dotfiles or something.

Oh yeah, once you use a tilinng wm and get used to them, traditional floating wm feel jarring. I have to log into a KDE installation for development and managing windows gives me more headache than fixing nasty bugs.


When it comes to Vim and its specific keybindings, they are efficient, yes, but I find them to be greatly over-hyped.

I could challenge any average Vim user to a duel in text editing, me using Kate, him using Vim. Vim is a great text editor, but so is Kate, and I can do in Kate almost anything with equal efficiency that can be done in Vim, and some things more efficient than that.

I also have Kate but never really looked into it, beyond quick text file editing. Using any plugins or tweak Kate at all?

Only the default ones that come with it. I also use LSP with Kate (mostly clang and texlab). It gives me all the IDE features that I want (it’s not a full featured IDE, though, but neither is Vim. Both are sufficiently close, for my use case).

I’ve made my own colour theme for it, still tweaking that one, but that’s just aesthetics.

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Forget the WM just use KDE. :laughing:

Right now I use both… But am mostly in my i3wm session, but with dolphin, Kate and all the other stuff that comes with KDE :rofl: KDE is nice but too bloated if you come from a wm setting. But is a nice desktop, no denying that.

i3 is nice too…

So it’s ki3WM now??