Can you really learn to type faster?
Typing is one of those skills that uses muscle memory and has to be practised, but practise, as we all know, makes perfect! So, no typing needed right now, as all you have to do is read on to find out how you can improve your typing speed.
Why Should Improving Your Typing Speed Matter?
When the internet was a relatively new phenomenon, we could all be forgiven for being slow at typing. But these days, practically everything we do is online, from work emails to documenting our lives on social media.
In these times of social distancing, too, we’re spending more and more time at home and interacting with people online, so it really pays to improve our typing speeds.
So, no more typing like your Aunt Cathy trying to send out her Christmas emails!
Improving your typing speed is one of those skills you’ll never forget once you’ve cracked it, and you’ll find that it really does change your life. You’ll be so much more productive, and you’ll no longer feel that sense of dread and doom when you pull your chair up to the computer.
How Fast Should You Be?
Well, I guess it all depends on how fast you want to be. If you’re one of those typists who spends a lot of the time making circular air movements over the keys as you look for one letter after the other, then you definitely need to improve your speed.
But, for as long as you’re not looking for a job in a professional typing pool (and the chances of that are pretty slim, seeing as we don’t live in the 1950s anymore) then you won’t need to worry about crazy typing speeds. What you’re looking for are the skills that will enable you to type faster so you can get stuff done.
Think of it this way: the average typist types around 36 words per minute, and a professional typist types around 90 words per minute. You should be aiming for somewhere in the middle, around 60 words per minute, putting you in the ‘fluent’ range.
So, if you’re in the ‘average’ category and you can push yourself to being ‘fluent’ then you’ll be almost doubling your typing speed and getting everything done twice as fast!
How to Type Faster: The Basics
Set Goals and Stick to Them
It’s not going to happen overnight but like anything worth doing, learning to type takes plenty of time and practice. The good thing is that it’s one of those skills you can literally learn on the job.
So, answer those work emails and type those documents as you were going to anyway, only this time begin to apply the typing techniques we’ll delve into now. Before you know it, you’ll be racing through your work pile and your boss is going to wonder which genius you’ve been taking lessons from. Ahem.
You might not have known this, but the first thing you need to be aware of, before you even turn on your computer, is to think about the way you sit.
It’s a great idea to invest in a typing chair if you’re going to be working for long hours. I know, it’s so tempting to wake up in the morning, sit up in bed, and reach for the laptop, but fight the urge! Get up, sit at a desk, make sure you have good lighting, and that you’re in a supportive chair.
Keep both feet on the floor, and your spine straight. You shouldn’t be slouching or turning your head sideways to look at the screen. It’s best if you’re not resting your wrists on the desk because this will put strain on them.
Take breaks when you need to and flex those fingers!
Get a Good Keyboard
You don’t need to invest in an all-singing, all-dancing ergonomic keyboard that’s split in two, lights up, talks to you and practically makes coffee while you type.
OK, so that last bit was made up but seriously, you can find some great, flashy keyboards out there, but you really don’t need to buy one. Just a regular computer keyboard will do the job, but make sure none of the keys are faulty and that you haven’t spilled lemonade on them because there’s nothing worse than sticky keys, especially when you’re trying to learn!
Personally, I like the keyboards that sound all clicky when I type because it makes me feel really professional and industrious, but a softer-sounding keyboard is also fine.
Getting Down to the Nitty Gritty
So, you’re sitting comfortably in your supportive desk chair, with your feet on the ground and your fingers hovering over your not-flashy-but-not-sticky keyboard.
Placing Your Fingers
No more ‘hunting and pecking’! The Good Lord blessed us with 8 fingers and two thumbs, and we use every single one of them when learning to touch type.
Now, if you look down at the F and J keys, you’ll notice that they have bumps on them. This is so you can find your way back to the default position if you lose your way. The idea is that you will eventually be able to type fluently enough to not have to look at the keyboard.
Your default position should be where your fingers rest lightly (not pressing down on the keys, just resting) with your left hand on A,S,D, and F and your right hand on J,K,L, and the semicolon (;).
Your thumbs look after the space bar. That’s their only job, but you couldn’t do it without them, so we still love our thumbs.
If you’re wondering why there’s nothing yet placed on G and H, don’t worry! We’ll get to that, and the rest of the keys.
Which Fingers Look After Which Keys?
The best way to remember this is to draw yourself a keyboard layout and color the keys in as you follow this guide. Or, better still, find a ready-colored guide and print that one out!
Either way, you’ll want it in front of you as you learn, at least for the first few times you practise. The idea is that you’ll stop yourself from relying on looking at the keys on the keyboard as you type.
Don’t worry about all the majority of the extra keys around the sides for now (I mean, most of the time, do we even know what they do, exactly?) because you’re looking at becoming faster at typing emails. The only non-letter keys we’re interested in are the ones you’ll use for punctuation.
Imagine that the pinkie finger on your left hand is Finger 1. Then Fingers 2, 3 and 4 make up your left hand. Fingers 5, 6, 7 and 8 are the fingers of your right hand, beginning with your index finger.
(Again, don’t worry about your thumbs! Space bar only!)
Here are the keys each finger will look after:
- 1: 1, 2, Q, A, Z
- 2: 3, W, S, X
- 3: 4, E, D, C
- 4: 5, 6, R, T, F, G, V, B
- 5: 7, Y, U, H, J, N, M
- 6: 8, I, K, and the Comma key (,)
- 7: 9, O, L, and the Period key (.)
- 8: 0, P, Semicolon (;), Forward Slash (/)
It looks complicated written like this, but trust me, if you transfer this onto a keyboard drawing or, as I say, print one off ready-made, it’ll make much more sense.
You can turn on the on-screen keyboard on your computer so that you can watch yourself as you type, and use this as opposed to looking down at your fingers. Watching yourself will only slow you down. If you’re tempted, cover your hands with a specially-designed keyboard cover, or do what the secretaries in typing pools used to do, and put a bucket over your head to practice (be sure to take the bucket off your head again when you go to get a coffee refill).
Use Online Practice Sites
It used to be that you’d have to buy a special program to learn how to touch-type but thanks to the internet, there are some amazing free sites where you can practice touch-typing, with your fingers assigned to the keys as set out above.
Now, go ahead and practice! Set yourself a goal of improving your word count just a little each day. Put in the time and effort and I promise you that in no time at all, you’ll find that you’re typing faster than ever before.
Not only that, but you’ll notice that you make fewer and fewer mistakes as you type so that you’re not only typing faster, but more accurately as time goes on.
Don’t Give Up!
Remember, you wouldn’t expect to be able to pick up a guitar and strum it easily after just one or two minutes, and typing is no different. But once you’re on your way, you’ll find that it makes your life so much easier and will feel smooth and natural.
You’ll be typing like a pro in no time!