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28. 3. 2019

You Should Stop Writing F*cking Slow

In one of his letters, Seneca wrote that “there are things which need our full attention and also things which we can do while riding a three-wheeler” (Seneca & Campbell, 2004). Unfortunately, most of the things which we have to do during our days are more of the latter. You can do them while riding the three-wheeler.

We should try to avoid shallow work. Emails, reports, meetings, and loads of communication are however necessary parts of our daily lives. Some people try to face this by multitasking which is as Gary W. Keller puts it “merely the opportunity to screw up more than one thing at a time”. But what should one do instead?

Let me take you to the magic island

Close your eyes 1 and imagine how your days would be different if you were typing the same speed you think. You would be just thinking about what you want to write, and the words would magically appear themselves on the page. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Unfortunately, I can’t give you any magic powder which would allow you to do this. But I can show you one skill that may have a similar impact as the powder. It’s “The touch typing”. It’s when you are using all your fingers to type without looking at a keyboard at all 2. To learn the basics is easy enough and with just some tiny invested effort you can easily double your typing speed in a month. Let’s have a look at some numbers of real people. Keep on mind, that the speed of your typing is in WPM (words per minute) units.

start (WPM) end (WPM) time #course of days
30 70 4h 20m 15
35 70 2h 20m 12
20 40 5h 30m 11
20 45 10h 22

The numbers are from anonymized profiles of real people from: https://www.keybr.com

What does it mean to write three times faster?

How much time do you spend typing on your average day? For example, even if you write just five emails (five minutes each), report to school/meeting (one hour), and social media messages/comments (thirty-five minutes) per day; that’s two hours of typing. To paraphrase Seneca again, most of this typing could be done when riding a three-wheeler. Since you don’t need to think too hard about most of these things, you might expect a linear relationship between the typing speed and the outcome. Let’s do the math now. If you doubled your typing speed, you would save about an hour per day. Of course, doubling your speed doesn’t need to be your final destination.

It’s cool but unfortunately, don’t have time for this kind of games.

Yeah, I see you are a fuck*n busy person. But stop and think for a moment. If you would save one hour EVERY DAY because of this skill – even if you invested half an hour a day in cultivating it; you still will be thirty minutes better of + have a new powerful skill in your pocket. Also, once you learned the basics, you will practice whenever you type. So, there will be even less time needed for direct practicing. Still, think you can’t do it?

Oh, ok you genius, so where to start?

It is a skill.  Take advantage of a Pareto rule 3 and invest some real time in the beginning. I believe that the things you learn in the first couple of hours will drive the 80% benefit of whole typewriting. As told before, keep on mind that once you learn the basics you practice whenever you type. Besides this, if you want to write REALLY fast, make practicing a habit. Find a specific cue and practice whenever this cue appears. I’ve found particularly useful to practice every morning before I start working on articles. It’s training, but also a type of warmup for writing itself. Which leads to efficiency and speed you are looking for when you start your “real work”.

Where to practice?

There are plenty of free platforms for you to use. Try a few of them and stick to what suits you best. Before you begin, try to answer these three questions 4

1.    How much time would I save if I would be able to type (2-4) x faster?

2.    What could I do with this extra time?

3.    When will I practice typing and how I am going to keep myself accountable?

Let’s look at sites.

Typing club: You can learn speed typing from scratch there. In the first half of the course, there are many technique/speed drills. The second part consists of re-typing texts. I have tried multiple sites but stick to this one for I like it the most.

Typing: This site is one of the most popular ones. You can also learn to touch type from scratch here. There are more possible versions of the courses. In a premium version, there are many games and funny forms of practice.

Mastertyping: The advantage of this site is in the possibility of customization. Compared to others you can choose what you write. It’s simple, clear and you don’t have even to sign up.

Typeracer: Here you can race in speed typing with other users. The race format and the fact that you play with the real people in the real-time make this site highly addictive.

There is a pile of other great sites. Nevertheless, there is no site which would help you unless you invest in some time and effort. At the beginning: Focus on technique first the speed will come with time. Also, don’t get frustrated if you weren’t speed-typer on the first day of your practice. Be patient, and magic will happen.

Wish you best luck, and if you have made that first step; don’t hesitate to encourage and motivate others in comments!

REFERENCES:

Seneca, L. A., & Campbell, R. (Robin A. (2004). Letters from a Stoic: Epistulae morales ad Lucilium.

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