Continuously Improving With Your Tools

Have you ever setup your tools in half an hour? In my opinion, the key to improving your tools is gradually evolving what you use, and how you use them. Here’s what I think about it.

Continuous improvement

I like to improve and learn incrementally. This means I start using new tools, improve how I use existing ones, and in the 21st century, working in different computers at different times during the day.

So, I usually find myself in situations where I tweak my config files or I add a new tool to my favourites, and then I customise it a bit. You would expect to have all these new settings across different computers. Wouldn’t it be great if we could automate all this?

Enter git

So I decided a while ago to version my config files using git, as many other programmers do nowadays. I like to keep my dotfiles and configuration files for applications I use in the same repo.

I take the approach to hard link dotfiles to my $HOME from my cloned repository. Regarding links, others have tried it before and you can have problems, specially with .gitconfig. I never had any problem with it, because I edit files manually.

Remember: There is life after origin

Sometimes we are used to git origin to be the repo we push code to, or github/bitbucket for our personal or open source projects. But you can do more. I like having those settings stored in Dropbox as a remote for my settings. The advantage is that I don’t have to remember the remote urls of my public source repo, just reference a local disk url, which is usually ~/Dropbox/reponame.

You can setup a new remote in dropbox like this:

cd /path/to/dropbox/
git init --bare myrepo.git

Then from your local repo:

git remote add dropbox /path/to/dropbox/myrepo.git

That’s it! You can push to it normally:

git push dropbox master

Bonus for push/pull speed, as both repos are local to your machine.


So the goal is to improve gradually, because we learn new tools and tweak existing ones. Git can help you with that, and you can take many approaches to how you manage your dotiles. Whatever your approach to keeping these settings, it’s important to take care of them normally, improve them, tweak them as you use them.
Spend 20 minutes now to think about how to gradually improve your workflow, and you will be saving hours of time in the long term.