This is a second post on how stay efficient while being a GIS professional. Please see my first post on that here.
3. Learn how to search the Internet.
Well, you probably think of Google. But how many people you know use any Google search syntax? It can be of tremendous help to be able to search just within a certain web site.
I used to search a lot on Esri Forums, so the syntax for this is “site:” and then the site name and then the search string, for example, “site:forums.arcgis.com import arcpy”. This is very useful because the Esri’s search on Forums is not as good as Google’s one. Search for “site:geonet.esri.com import arcpy” on Esri GeoNet. “site:gis.stackexchange.com” is another helpful place for the search.
If you are a veteran, then you’d probably enjoy searching the Archived Esri forums, too: “site:forums.esri.com import arcpy”. By using advanced search techniques you’ll be able to find the answers to your questions much faster.
4. Get yourself a decent suite of useful utilities.
You have gone through this list What free programs should every GIS user have installed, haven’t you? There are tons of useful programs that could save you hours at work.
I also recommend installing a proper file manager program if you find yourself managing files often. Total Commander is used by many people I know, but my favorite is Far Manager, but this is because I grew up using Norton and Volkov Commander, so I am a bit biased. I love using the keyboard for managing files, and Far Manager gives me this kind of control. Navigating around without using the mouse, editing the files and shooting some DOS commands without having to start a CMD is just so great.
5. Learn programming.
Being able to operate any software or operating system programmatically can be a huge time saver. It can help make sure that the operation can be re-run and you have full control over its execution. You don’t have to be a computer scientist, but being able to script a few map export workflows or list all your shapefiles in a folder can be very helpful. Most of modern GIS products provide a scripting language, most often Python, for automation and customization.
I cannot stress more how important it is to be comfortable using one of the popular programming languages. My favorite is Python; I am using it for lots of things: automating some desktop GIS workflows, building add-ins for desktop GIS, managing files, administer GIS servers, author geoprocessing web services.
If you want to learn more about Python in GIS, consider looking at this GIS.SE post: Resources for learning Python programming with generic GIS goals in mind? And if you are an ArcGIS user: What are some resources for learning ArcPy?
More tips will be published soon!