23 May 2016
For those of us that spend long periods of time at a computer, either at work or at home, we know that the repetition of using a mouse can cause strain. In a previous blog Ctrl your computer and Esc your mouse we looked at how you can use keyboard shortcuts to reduce mousing.
In conjunction with that, you could also consider mousing with your non-dominant hand regularly.
The number one obvious benefit of this, is to give your wrist and hand a rest to avoid injury. What you may not realise though, is that it is actually a very good brain exercise as well. The more we do something, the less our brains have to work to do it. Changing mousing to your non-dominant hand will challenge your brain and force it to pay attention while you’re learning new fine motor skills.
Also, the layout of most keyboards with the number keys on the right hand side, puts your mouse out a long way on that side, which ergonomically is not ideal. So it’s good to regularly switch the mouse to the left hand side where it can sit in close to the keyboard and it means your right hand is free to use the numbers.
Give it a Go
Be patient. It will take time and it will be frustrating to get used to mousing with your other hand, so allow yourself more time to do simple tasks. Start off with one hour doing simple mousing and then build up in time and complexity of tasks. Once you’re comfortable, the idea is to regularly switch between both hands, for example, you could use your left hand in the mornings and right in the afternoon. Your speed and accuracy will improve with time and it is worth it to reduce your risk of injury.
Setting It up
You can just move your mouse to the other side of the keyboard and off you go. However some people like to switch the buttons on the mouse which reverses the functions of the right and left buttons.
To do this, go to the Start menu. Click Control Panel then View devices and printers (under Hardware and Sound). Right click on the mouse image and click mouse settings. In the buttons tab, click the check box that says Switch primary and secondary buttons and click apply. Move your mouse to the other side of the keyboard.
You’re now good to go and be prepared to have a giggle at yourself. Don’t give up! Stick with it and by one week you’ll be starting to feel better about it and by one month it will be feeling normal.
The next level
If you want to continue to challenge your brain, you could take switching hands to the next level and try brushing your teeth, using the television remote or opening doors with your other hand. You can read more in the article How to Keep Your Brain Fit.
Remember the idea is to regularly switch between your left and right hand for whatever task you might be doing.
Have you tried switching mouse hands? How long did it take you to feel comfortable?