We already had a few posts about the keyboard and why we should be professional about it and skilled while using it. A few weeks ago I was sitting with one of my group members – we were brainstorming some topic and I was summarizing the key points along the way. During the discussion, he looked at my touch typing and was wondering how I leveraged the Ctrl and Shift keys.
Mistakenly, I thought this is a common knowledge. I guess I learnt it once from someone, and before that it wasn’t common knowledge to me as well. So, let’s briefly go over the most useful combinations (at least useful for me).
Ctrl + <Arrow>: use that to jump.
Arrow=Right: jump one word to the right
Arrow=Left: jump one word to the left
Arrow=Up: jump to top of the paragraph (or to the beginning of the previous paragraph in case you are at the top of the paragraph already)
Arrow=Down: jump to the start of the next paragraph
Shift + <Arrow>: mark the text from the current position to the place you are going with the arrow key.
Ctrl + Shift + <Arrow>: mark the text from the current position to the place you are going with the arrow key, while jumping over words/paragraphs.
That’s it. Not too many options and not that complicated, but highly useful while typing and updating a text. If you don’t use it yet, give it a chance, it will make things much faster for you.
I know, the title is a bit melodramatic. I guess it has been a while since my last post. I see people every day that are fast thinkers, but are very slow when it comes to the keyboard. When I come to think of it, we don’t allocate enough time for practicing the tool we use the most, every single day – the keyboard. It doesn’t make sense to me. What do you think?
Touch typing is typing on the keyboard without using the sense of sight to find the keys (Wikipedia).
A Personal Note
I would start with a personal note. I was a software engineer for ~10 years before I discovered the power of touch typing. I wasn’t slow on my typing, and I was using both hands, but I kept looking at the keyboard while typing. Same keyboard, 8-12 hours a day, every day. And still, I kept looking at the keyboard for finding the keys.
One day I was moved to a new cubicle. My new neighbor was a touch-typing person. He was typing fast while looking at the screen, not at the keyboard. It was beautiful. After a couple of days I have decided to give it a try myself, so I have searched for a free touch typing site and practiced that for a couple of days. My fingers were in pain, but I kept going. After a couple of more days, it felt good – no pain and I actually started touch typing. It all took less than a week. I was so happy with my achievement.
There are many “flavors” of keyboard typing I have seen along the years:
One hand, one finger, looking at the keyboard
Two hands, one figure each, looking at the keyboard
Two hands, a few fingers each, looking at the keyboard
Two hands, all fingers, looking at the keyboard
Two hands, all fingers, not looking at the keyboard (most of the time)
We are aiming to the last one.
Great Reasons for using Touch Typing
Here are a few things I have learnt from my experience:
I wish I have done it earlier.
You don’t need any special physical ability to be able to touch type.
Anyone can touch-type fast, it is just a matter of practice.
I use touch typing for the last 12 years now. I feel there are 2 main things we can gain by touch typing:
Our fingers are no longer a constraint for our brain. This means that we type fast enough for our thoughts to flow smoothly.
We type digitally on the spot (as opposed to writing on a paper and later on copy it into the computer).
The faster you type, the more time you save. You can save couple of hours a week by typing faster. This is a simple math. I recommend to practice till you get at least to 45 WPM (Word Per Minute). There are many free sites out there for practicing touch typing. Who knows, you might win the touch typing championship one day.
The Next Challenge
If you are already fast with your touch typing, here is another challenge for you. I took it a step further and bought a BLANK keyboard (this is actually the keyboard name). No letters, no nothing, just black keys all over the place. This is a picture from my desk.
I use it for the past 6 month and it feels great, especially when you type full sentences (warning: it is a bit more challenging when typing passwords – I got locked out of my laptop couple of times).
The things we can gain from the blank keyboard:
We learn the position of the difficult keys – symbols and such.
We don’t move our sight to the keyboard because there is simply nothing down there that can help us. This forces us to really do touch typing.
We get to the point where we let our fingers dance the on the keyboard, without thinking too much about it.
It is up to You
Really, it is just a matter of a decision. Once you decide you want it enough, you can achieve it. It will take a week or so, but you will get there. Don’t be like the Sloth Trailer from the Zootopia movie… :)