Recently, I've started practising my typing each day - for around 5-10 minutes. So far, according to 10fastfingers, I've increased my typing speed from 70WPM to 80WPM. Not much, but I can feel myself getting more "familiar" with the keyboard. In this post, I wanted to dig into why I've started this daily habit and how I'm practising.
This all started with trying to adopt a "keyboard-first" mentality. If you're anything like me, you mix and match between operations performed by your mouse and keyboard. But, when increasing my usage of Vim, using the mouse isn't possible. All operations have to be performed via the keyboard. Not only does this make actions faster but also keeps your hands on your keyboard, enabling you to get back to typing as soon as possible. I decided I could translate this mentality to other programs by using their keyboard shortcuts. Learning simple shortcuts like selecting the URL bar of your browser (
CMD+L) and cycling through tabs (
CMD+SHIFT+[) has saved me a bunch of time.
The keyboard is the primary interface between my brain and the computer. So increasing the "bandwidth" of this connection is super valuable. As shortcuts improve the speed of actions, typing faster will help me get my thoughts out quicker and code written faster and with fewer errors. I always seem to get in a flow of programming, only to be interrupted by making a typing mistake - reducing these errors was a priority.
Principally, I'm doing this through a daily typing test on 10fastfingers.com and practise on keybr.com. Both of these tools differ in key ways (no pun intended).
10FF, gives you a 200-word typing test and a time limit of a minute. The challenge is to type as many words as you can within that period. The words chosen are the most used in English. I like taking this test regularly because it builds my muscle memory for common words and phrases. Given that you can learn 800 words and know how to speak 75% of a spoken language, it pays to be able to type these common words quickly. I'm ok with taking a couple of seconds to type verisimilitude - however much I love that word. There are a bunch of social features with 10FF, but I don't care for these. My only opponent is myself. Often, I catch myself in this test in a sort of "flow" where I magically type all the correct keys without even thinking about it. This momentary realisation makes me smile, but soon turns into scowls when I mistype "soccer" as a result.
Keybr is a beautifully designed tool that first takes you through the entire keyboard to see where your weaknesses lie. Most of the words are "riffs" on familiar words - "influencecapa", "comprom" and "discuse". In doing so, it breaks your muscle memory and forces you to think carefully about where you place your fingers. This tool makes up the bulk of my practice as it "moves" you around the keyboard in a way that typing common words won't.
Maybe you're sold on improving your typing speed, maybe not. In any case, I encourage you to sharpen the saw and look at the fundamentals rather than chasing productivity through "tools". Now the sun is out, and I've typed enough today so cya!