Typing is a valuable skill, considering that most of our work lives are spent interacting with a computer of some sort. It follows that the faster you can type, the more efficient and fruitful this interaction will be. But even though you type the entire day, your improvement still seems to be glacial. This article will attempt to remedy that.
First, I will present a list of useful tips and tricks which will help you improve your typing speed, and type more accurately. Second what will follow is the (undemanding) training regimen that helped me quadruple my typing speed in three months.
Some helpful advice
- The most important thing is that you know how to touch type. This is absolutely essential. More will follow on this later on.
- Use ctrl-backspace (or command on a Mac) to delete a full word. This simple trick can significantly boost your speed.
- Value accuracy over speed, especially when practicing. Accuracy is more beneficial in the long-term.
- Stick to standard finger movements until you’ve reached 100wpm. This is better for building consistency and accuracy, which is important to do in the beginning.
- The only way you’re going to improve is consistent training. This training should take the form of deliberate practice.
Typing is a skill, like any other. To get better at a skill, especially one so ubiquitous and valuable, we practice it. And possibly the best way to practice something is to make use of deliberate practice. This means three things: timely feedback, focused efforts and exploiting weaknesses. When we apply these principles to the practice of typing, what we get is a drastic improvement in a short period of time. More about deliberate practice here.
So, how did I apply these principles to typing?
Learning the basics
- I built a daily typing habit. Consistency is really the key thing here. This blog post will help you build this habit.
- I started off with a website called typing club until I reached 30wpm. This taught me the basics of touch typing and provides a superb foundation for improvement (while it may be arduous at times, this is essential if you cannot yet touch-type)
- I then moved to keybr which practices specific letters, cementing the skill of touch typing and making me comfortable with all the keys. It focuses more on the keys you struggle with (slow response time for hitting them and low accuracy), and focuses on certain letters, thereby fulfilling the criteria of deliberate practice.
Practice makes perfect
- Next, I started with the main routine. I made use of three websites – nitro type for speed, type racer for accuracy, and monkey type (quote mode – do the longest setting to practice consistency and stamina) for ‘real world’ typing. When practicing speed for example, you should aim to focus on just speed and not worry about accuracy. This ensures focused sessions, which will deliver high impact. I highly recommend you have more training sessions for accuracy and ‘real world’ typing than for speed (I had about two training sessions for speed each week). Accuracy will benefit your long-term speed far more and ensures a better experience overall.
- Finally, we need to incorporate the feedback we receive and exploit our weaknesses for maximum effect. In monkey type, we can do this by selecting “practice missed words” after finishing an exercise. In all three websites you should make a note of words, letters, or letter combinations you struggle with, and write them down. We can then copy these and paste them into the monkey type ‘custom’ mode. I recommend one or two such special training sessions each week. This will allow you to capitalize on the feedback (in the form of data) and exploit your weaknesses.
- I also practiced common letters and letter combinations by gradually compiling a list and then practicing that in the monkey type custom mode.
Keeping the routine
Once the initial habit has been formed, the process should go smoothly. However, I recommend a few things you can do to keep this routine.
- Notice the benefits that stem from it. Isn’t it nice to type fast? Does it not feel freeing when you write? Has your productivity increased drastically?
- Track it. Mark every day that you complete the practice. You will form chains and will want to keep them going.
- The grand gesture. What actually helped me a lot is buying a new keyboard. I bought mine for unrelated reasons, but buying a nice mechanical keyboard really gave me motivation and responsibility to practice, and made it more enjoyable.
- Gamify it. Set objectives and milestones for yourself. Track your development. Watching my typing speed increase really gave me satisfaction and the motivation to keep going. There is a great website for this if you’re keen to do it.
I recommend you treat this as a project, and not a permanent habit. Pick a period, set a goal for your desired typing speed, and start practicing. I guarantee you will see improvement within two weeks.
Typing is a valuable skill for productivity and writing, and I believe absolutely everyone can benefit from growing their typing speed. I hope my routine and advice will help you grow your typing speed, so that you to can reap the benefits that come from it.