Learning to type fast is more important than ever, especially as people move to jobs in data centers and offices, where high WPM (word-per-minute) ratings are expected. Unfortunately, the way most people learn to type involves looking carefully at their keyboard and picking off keys one at a time, which results in a horribly low level of efficiency and doesn’t develop any of the muscle memory or skills required for a master at rapid typing.
How, then, do you train yourself to type faster?
Start By Practicing Better Habits
Don’t look at your keyboard. To type fast, you have to develop muscle memory- muscle memory means your fingers will already know where all the letters on your keyboard are in relation to each other by default, saving you the trouble of looking down and resulting in the lightning-fast speeds you see the best desk workers employ. A great way to start doing this is to focus on typing full sentences in text documents or social media posts- full sentences, with proper grammar and punctuation. It’ll be a pain, but you have backspace for a reason- typing slowly and carefully is a waste of time when any mistake can easily be fixed. You have to make mistakes to develop the skills necessary to do this.
Many keyboard training classes will advise a strict adherence to homerow keys and a certain “way” of typing, but I consider this unnecessary. Whatever position you find yourself adopting while typing blind is what will work best for you and ensure that your muscle memory develops properly.
Sidenote: Mechanical Keyboards
Mechanical keyboards differ from traditional, rubber-dome keyboards by using mechanical switches. This means they’re louder, larger and more expensive in general: however, this means that your keys will register without you needing to push them all the way down, which is great for typing speed and PC gaming. A mechanical keyboard isn’t necessary to get a faster typing speed, but speaking as a writer, I couldn’t live without mine. [I wrote a guide to buying keyboards over on MakeTechEasier, if that interests you.]
Typeracer takes typing and turns it into a competitive online game. Even for someone with a high WPM like myself, it can be a little punishing, since you can’t pass words without fixing your mistakes. When you’re focused on racing, mistakes can and will happen, and being able to fix them in a timely manner is required for you to continue. In addition to gamifying your training, Typeracer will teach you a lot of good habits with identifying, fixing and avoiding mistakes as they are made. Untrained users aren’t likely to win many races- a regular person averages at 41 WPM and lower.
But like any competition or skill, there’s always someone better. I average in high 80s/low 90s, which is significantly higher than most people and more than enough for my chosen profession of writing. However, even I still have some training to do if I want to do better.