Learning to touch-type is one of the most valuable skills you’ll ever learn as a designer or developer.
If you want to increase your productivity and have more success, bite the bullet and learn to type properly now!
I know this won’t be a popular topic, but it’s true: If you want to be a better designer, developer, manager, whatever… Learn To Touch Type!
If you’re a team leader, get everyone on your team to learn to type. It will be the best short-term skills investment you can make.
Why you should learn to type
The bottom line is this – if you type with one or two fingers of each hand, the average person can probably manage 40-60 wpm (words per minute). If you learn to touch-type, you can increase that speed to 60-100 wpm.
Most of the things we do on a computer involve typing to some degree. And the quicker you can type, the quicker you get those tasks done. The quicker you get your stuff done, the more productive you are, which lets you:
- Complete tasks and jobs more quickly
- Get more achieved in limited time
- Do more jobs in a month
- Have more free time to sit back and think up ideas
- Or just try out alternatives
And this makes you better at whatever it is you do.
You may think that, as a web designer, you’re more mouse-oriented. Maybe you use visual tools to create and edit web pages. If so, watch how much you use your keyboard in the next hour.
Unless you are made of wood, your brain can think a heck of a lot faster than your fingers can type. So your typing is certainly the bottleneck to your productivity.
Touch-typing is nothing magical. It’s quite a simple process. Here’s how it works.
Instead of watching the keyboard as you type, you watch the screen, and you type without looking. You place your hands on the keyboards, with both index fingers touching the little lumps (normally) on the F and J keys (D and K on some Mac keyboards I’ve seen). You simply learn the position of each key on the keyboard, and through practice your body (your physical memory) remembers which finger moves where to hit that key.
After a while, the process is so automatic that you only have to think a word for it to appear on the screen. I find it a very enjoyable way to work, because it’s less tiring, and you don’t have to keep shifting your eyes from keyboard to screen.
Another benefit is that, because you’re watching as you type, you can instantly spot any typing errors and correct them straightaway.
Oleg wrote to add another benefit, which is that touch-typing helps free your mind from the mechanics of what you’re doing, helping you to focus on the task in hand. He also adds that because touch-typing is easier, it’s less tiring. I certainly agree with that.
Another bonus is that touch-typing involves less movement, and so is lower-impact on the hands and wrists, which can help prevent RSI (repetitive strain injury).
The catch of learning to type
Here’s the catch.
To learn to touch-type, you have to stop typing the way you have always done it. This means you need to accept that you’ll be slower for a few months before you get quicker. But you will get quicker – significantly quicker – and it is worth it.
How to learn
There’s only one way: to commit to learning to type properly, and then to practice diligently for a few weeks.
I strongly recommend getting some software to help you learn. That’s how I learnt, and my reasons for recommending it are:
- You need to learn the best fingers to use for each key.
- Software can make something quite boring feel like having fun, with games and tests.
- It helps you go in bite-size steps, building from the first few “home” keys to the full keyboard in a manageable way.