Justin Blake's
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My Thoughts on "Trying to learn to Vim"

by Justin Blake on March 25, 2014

Don’t bother learning it unless you have a good reason to.

Several times I tried to start using vim because it seemed like this holy grail. I convinced myself that I would like it. I even gave it a month of almost exclusive use. It never stuck and I wasted a lot of time being much less productive than I normally was.

Then I was in a position that I needed to do a lot of work on remote servers. Instead of multiple tabs + nano I forced myself to use tmux and vim whenever I was doing that work. But when I was doing other work, I let myself use my normal editor if I wanted to. Instead of going all in for everything, I let vim be a tool that I used when I needed it.

I started building up my own tmux and vim configs as I went. When I felt some pain, I sought out a solution for only that pain point, and only when the pain of learning a new thing outweighed the pain of lacking it. I picked small pieces from other people’s configs as needed, instead of copying a “recommended” config whole-hog or using something like janus.

Eventually, I started to really enjoy vim (and tmux), and I reached for my other editor less and less. Now I’m 100% on vim for all of my work. I wouldn’t say I’m any more productive than I was before, but I definitely don’t want to go back.

The vim sweet spot for me was working in the terminal. I now do most of my work on a remote vps with many persistent tmux sessions. But I think you should use whatever fits your situation the best. And always be taking small steps for constant improvement. You can be as productive in Sublime or Atom or Notepad++ as in vim if you get good at it. Whenever you come across something you think could be improved by using a shortcut or customizing some config, do it. It will be slower at first, but faster in the long run.

There’s nothing magic about vim in particular for productivity.

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