Want to be more productive? Learn to touch type

Typing is the new handwriting. Honestly – other than filling out a form, when is the last time you wrote anything substantial using a pen? When did you last send someone a handwritten letter? Most of us don't even send Christmas cards any more, and if we do we include a typed update rather than writing inside the card.

We all type, all the time. Even if you're not a writer, you are writing. Emails. Social media updates. Web searches. By my guesstimation, writing is now third in line as a written communication method behind typing on a keyboard and tapping on a screen. Bringing up the rear but likely to catch up before long is typing using your voice.

So, given that you spend so much time typing, have you ever learnt to touch type? You know, typing using all ten fingers and without looking at the keyboard.

It amazes me how few people touch type. The hunt-and-peck method of typing, no matter how many fingers you use, is the digital equivalent of using a quill dipped in ink, yet most people still do it. (I can't find any stats on this, so I'll just go with my observation. Feel free to contradict.)

"But!" I hear you object. "I peck. And I am quite fast."

Maybe. But I doubt it. The thing is, touch typing has a number of advantages, only one of which is speed:

  • My touch typing speed is about 70 words per minute, which is nothing out of the ordinary. Nevertheless, I'd challenge even the most proficient hunt-and-pecker to match that.
  • Touch typing facilitates greater accuracy because instead of looking at the keyboard as you type, you can look at the screen. Mistakes, when you do make them, are obvious straight away and so can be easily corrected.
  • Touch typing opens up others avenues to productivity too, such as greater use of keyboard shortcuts (a topic for another day).
  • Touch typing provides more focus: your attention is only on the screen – on what you're writing. It's not split between the screen and the keyboard.
  • You can touch type from a more relaxed position than the 'hunch' of a hunt-and-pecker, making it better ergonomically, and therefore the 100% fat-free healthier option.

All of which means touch typing simply makes more sense, whether you are writing a book, you are responding to 200 emails every day or you just spend a lot of time browsing the web.

The good news is that touch typing is easy to do: today's keyboards are a cinch compared with touch typing on the old typewriters, which really gave your pinkies a workout. And learning to touch type has never been easier. There are a million (give or take) opportunities to learn touch typing available online, many of them at no or low cost. (I found this one with a quick search, and it does seem to be genuinely free.)

All it needs is a commitment of a few minutes a day for a few weeks and before you know it the words will be pouring out of your fingers. Give it a try.

flickr.com: ilouque

flickr.com: ilouque

As usual, if you have any questions or comments, please add a comment below or contact me.

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