Here I stand at my desk – yes, I’m one of those, so it probably won’t surprise you to learn that I happened across this article and just had to give it a try. I swear I’m not bored at work, just curious and they indulge me.
The inspiration: A post by Debra Willard Webb, Safety Management Consultant, on memic.com, in which she (dubiously) claims in the title that mousing with your non-dominant hand is anti-aging that starts with your fingertips. Who wouldn’t read that? Webb writes “the simple exercise of learning the motor coordination for your opposite hand is brain work…a neurobiologist explains that mental exercise can even stimulate the development of new neurons…the more challenging the brain exercise, the better for mental fitness.” Who wouldn’t try that?
Editor’s note: Before you blow this off as “I could never do that, my non-dominant hand might as well be a foot for all the good it does me,” know this – I am still using my left hand for mousing. Seriously. Going on 3 weeks and I don’t intend to go back. Okay, back to the show.
Here’s what happened when I tried using the computer mouse with my left hand rather than my right:
9am – Wow. I didn’t realize how much I relied on procedural memory for my everyday tasks (“Why can’t I find ‘delete email’ all of a sudden when I’m using my left hand?!”). It certainly makes one more mindful, I am thinking really hard about tasks that are usually automatic.
10am – This is about when I become hyper aware of my left hand, to the point where I am paying so much attention to it, I forget how to type and perform the usual left-handed tasks. Even texting is awkward because I can’t stop thinking about what my left hand is up to. At this point I’m starting to wonder if my handwriting is getting worse because of this, or if I’m just being lazy. I already find myself starting to use my left hand for things I normally would do with my right (i.e. grabbing stuff and command keys on my keyboard.)
11am – I finally stopped reaching for the ghost mouse on the right (at least not all the time). With this new-found appreciation for my left hand, I get a little carried away, for example, I continually hit the Tab key with my left hand instead of the End key with my right while trying to format a document. It is irritating.
1pm – This felt a bit like starting over after lunch. Reaching for my ghost mouse, mechanical memory issues. Except now the novelty has worn off. Fine motor skills are still a bit rough at this point, my accuracy at hitting that link the first time is significantly reduced. I get there eventually.
2pm – The above issues resolved much faster than this morning. However, I am still endlessly hitting the right click button instead of the left click.
3pm – I’m starting to feel a little crabby about this. It certainly slows down my productivity (granted, minimally, but those seconds add up, right?). It’s hurting my brain a bit, now that I’ve been at it for half the day. Not too much to give up though! I figure it’s gotta get easier…
4pm – I begin to wonder if I feel smarter. Or younger. Probably not.
5pm – My left had certainly feels a bit more “used.” Headed home. I think I’ll try again tomorrow. Practice makes perfect!
9am – I thought someone stole my mouse. But I found it, there on the wrong side of my keyboard. So far so good.
10am – It’s just like riding a bike! Few of the initial problems are on repeat, but resolve quickly.
1pm – As day two wears on, I’m really starting to get the hang of this, and I think I like it, even if it doesn’t make me smarter, or younger, or nicer. In the end, only time will tell. I’ll let you know how I feel in a decade or so.
PS – Turns out I didn’t read the full article, or I would have found that she only recommends doing this for brief periods so you don’t get frustrated. I would venture to suggest you power through. No pain, no gain!
Still feel old and/or dumb? Try one of these.