If there’s one thing that’s really frustrating, it’s being a slow typist. I know what it’s like to be the person embarrassed because the world of technology was leaving me behind.
Truthfully it didn’t become a huge problem for me until I became a legal assistant at a very busy law office. Suddenly I had pages and pages of letters, memos, dictations, pleadings, and more that needed to be typed accurately and quickly. As someone who did not start out as the world’s fastest typist, I knew I had to get better (and fast.) Using the below methods, I managed to pull my speed up from 55 words per minute to 90 words per minute in just two months.
Focus on accuracy over speed
When I was learning to type, I spent a lot of time trying to get the words out as quickly as possible. That turned out to be exactly the wrong approach. I would type really quickly and have dozens of typos, which took a lot longer to correct than taking my time would have. It’s more important to get comfortable with the keyboard and type accurately than it is to type 85 words per minute right out the gate. This is mostly because getting really comfortable and confident that you’re typing accurately will give you the mental boost you need to begin typing faster without thinking about it.
Stop with the hunt and peck
Hand position is an important part of typing. If you’re learning computers later in life, that hand position may not come totally naturally to you. That’s ok! A lot of people who aren’t confident in their typing skills tend to type using a method called called the ‘hunt and peck.’ This maneuver is when a person scans the keyboard for the correct letter they’re looking to add before sharply tapping the keyboard with a single finger. This repeats until the typing is done or the person’s coworkers file a formal complaint.
There’s no shame if this is where you’re starting. However, learning to type with your hands in the proper position will allow your fingers to reach multiple keys much more quickly and will help increase your typing speed exponentially.
While typing, your thumbs should be resting on the space bar. The four fingers on your right hand should be touching the H, J, K, and L keys and the four fingers on your left hand should be touching the A, S, D, and F keys. Make a note of where the heels of your palms are, and try not to move them more than half an inch when you’re extending your fingers to reach keys on the keyboard.
Next time you have to type something, if you don’t already, try forcing your hands to stay like this and access all the keys you need by just stretching your fingers slightly. It’ll feel unnatural at first, but eventually this typing position will feel natural.
Practice this phrase
There’s a short phrase in the English language that contains every letter of the alphabet: “the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” I recommend that you learn to type this without looking, because once you do you will know by virtue of having that sentence memorized where every letter of the alphabet is on the keyboard. It’s an odd trick, but an effective one.
Set specific goals
Most people who say they want to increase their typing speed don’t make their goal any more specific than that. This is similar to someone saying that they want to get in better shape. A great goal to work for, but much easier to attain when you make it really specific. What exactly are you looking to do with your typing?
A few sample goals could be to pass a specific test at over 65 words per minute, type an entire inter-office memo without looking, or transcribe dictations of 5+ minutes with fewer than 5 errors. Whatever being a better and faster typist means to you, setting a clear goal and achieving it by progressing through specific benchmarks will make it happen. It’s also really helpful to outline specific rewards you’ll get when you achieve these goals such as a new gaming app or a fancy, indulgent latte from your local coffee shop.
Use online tests and resources
The most obvious typing tip that anyone can give you is to practice, practice, practice. However, because I prefer giving specific and immediately useful advice, I have a few great typing tests, games, and lessons that I used when I was trying to increase my typing speed:
These are all sites that I’ve personally used and have benefitted from greatly. How greatly? Last time I measured, my typing speed was over 90 words per minute. Using all the tips in this article and these tests made my typing what it is today, which is what I want for you. I highly recommend starting with the third link, the beginner typing lessons are spelled out in a clear and concise way.
Stretch your hands, neck, and shoulders
One of the reasons you might be a slow typist is because you’re having wrist, neck, shoulder, or back pain. We’ve covered how to get rid of back pain while at a desk job, but it’s just as important to look after your wrists. Even if you would otherwise be the most skilled typist in the world, if your wrists are hurting there’s no way you’ll top 50 words per minute. I’m going to link you some amazing wrist, neck, and shoulder stretches that you should do at least once an hour to prevent soreness and increase your optimal potential typing speed.
Good luck on your typing journey!