Learning to Type
I never really learned how to type. There is a Right Way to type: back straight, eyes forward, fingers on the home row. I developed an idiosyncratic typing style that was somewhere between hunt-and-peck and the Right Way. Using my incorrect technique, I was able to type as fast as 57 words per minute. According to various sources, the average typing speed is about 40 WPM, so I wasn't doing too bad. I wanted to get faster and my initial plan was just to practice a lot. After a lot of effort and no increase in typing speed, I became convinced that learning the correct typing technique was the best way to increase my typing speed.
In my research, I discovered a study that was conducted in the Aalto University in Helsinki, Finland. Their findings challenged my assumption that using correct typing technique is required to type fast. These folks found that typing speed is not dependent on using Correct Technique, it's about using a consistent technique (using the same fingers to hit the same keys). That's going to be easier to achieve when using an established technique. I decided that I was going to commit to learning the touch typing technique. Having learned to play a number of musical instruments, I am familiar with the amount of work that is required to develop this kind of muscle memory. Musicians often practice playing scales over and over in order to increase speed. When I first committed to using the touch typing technique, I could almost type at 20 wpm. It was excruciating. One of the most popular speed typing test sites would time out on me, I was so slow. I trained using keybr.com. Keybr uses a unique and, in my case, effective method for learning touch typing technique. From their site:
There are several features in Keybr.com that set it apart from most of the typing practice software out there. In short, it employs statistics and smart algorithms to automatically generate typing lessons matching your skills.
I resolved to practice for 20 minutes, two or three times a day. I had to overcome a lot of bad habits, but I was making progress. After almost two months, I can type at about 50 WPM. While I'm still typing a little slower than when I started, there have been other benefits to learning to touch-type.
- With continued practice, I should be able to increase my speed. Working through plateaus is to be expected.
- I used to type while looking at the keyboard and then look back up to check my work. Now, I can type without looking down so, even though I'm slower, I'm much more efficient.
- I type more accurately and I use the backspace key much less often than I did before.
- I can type fairly accurately while looking neither at the screen or at my keyboard.
If you’re thinking about learning to touch type, I recommend it. There are benefits beyond the opportunity to increase your typing speed. You’re going to be typing for your whole life, so it's never too late to commit to getting better.