Mastering the keyboard

Aqilah Rahman

I was a university student when my friend brought up touch typing, which basically means typing without looking at your keyboard.

Back then, the idea of touch typing sounded alien to me. How was I supposed to type without looking at my keyboard? Besides, I’d been typing my reports just fine, so I put the idea of touch typing behind me and moved on.

In hindsight, that was a bad decision because I could’ve saved so much time if I’d learned to touch type earlier.

The idea of touch typing came back to me years later when I landed a job and noticed one particular thing at work: my colleagues were really fast at typing; touch typing, to be exact.

They would tap their fingers effortlessly while keeping their eyes glued to the computer screen, occasionally glancing down but for no more than a second, then went back to looking at the screen as they continued to type.

I admired their skills and I found myself wanting to type faster too, so I decided to learn touch typing. After all, how hard could it be?

THE LEARNING PROCESS

Learning to touch type was brutal, to be honest, especially during the first few days.

There are a tonne of touch typing websites but the one I chose was keybr.com. When I started off, the first thing I learnt was that there are these little bumps on the F and J keys. That’s where you put your index fingers as a resting position.

Overall, the fingers on your left hand should be on the A, S, D and F keys; whereas on the right hand, you place your fingers on the J, K, L and ; keys.

Lastly, your thumbs should be resting on the spacebar key.

With keybr.com, I pretty much started from the bottom. At the beginning, I was given a set of alphabet letters to type repeatedly. Once I got the hang of it, I was given another set of different letters, and this went on until I could type the entire alphabet from A to Z.

The website takes note of what keys you’re good at and bad at. This means the more trouble you have with a particular key, the more often you’ll be typing that letter so you’ll eventually get good at it.

My biggest problem when I first learned touch typing is that I had to use all 10 of my fingers. Previously, I’d only used my index and middle fingers, so it took me a long time to get used to using all my fingers, especially my pinkies.

Another problem I encountered was my learning pace. During the first week, my typing speed fluctuated between 18 to 30 words per minute (wpm). In comparison, the average typing speed is about 40 wpm. In other words, I was slow.

To make things worse, I was typing even slower than I was with my old hunt-and-peck method, so it frustrated me whenever I got the keys wrong. I also had a bad habit of looking at the keyboard as I typed.

Still, I continued to practise. I covered up my keyboard keys with white stickers so I couldn’t see any of the letters, and I just kept typing until my fingers could memorise each key position.

My efforts paid off five weeks later, after 19 hours of practice. My speed went from 30wpm to 67wpm, more than twice as fast as my old typing method, and I couldn’t have been happier.

WAS IT WORTH IT?

It was. Nowadays, I don’t really look at the keyboard unless I’m typing numbers and symbols.

I don’t type numbers and symbols as often as I do with the regular letters.

I still struggle a bit when it comes to typing though, not because of the typing itself, but because I can’t find the words to say.

That, I’m afraid, isn’t something I can solve simply with touch typing. Overall, I find typing to be easier now that I know how to touch type. My only regret is that I didn’t learn touch typing sooner.

IS IT IMPORTANT TO LEARN TOUCH TYPING?

That depends on the person.

Touch typing is generally faster than regular typing, so it’s important for jobs like data entry and audio-to-text transcription where you have to type a lot on a daily basis.

In comparison, touch typing is less important for, say, a massage therapist and a baker.

That said, touch typing isn’t a must-have skill, but it’s definitely handy in the long run and there’s no harm in learning it.

So if you’re thinking of learning to touch type, whether just to kill time or simply because you want to type better and faster, I’d say go for it.