Learning to Touch-type at 22

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touch-typing learning

How it all started

It all starts when I was about 10 years old. I had my first introduction to touch-typing. I remember my teacher, Mrs Crabb used to gather all of us around and assign a computer to each one of us. Then she gave us a floppy disk that contained a program made specifically for kids to learn how to touch-type and a piece of cloth to cover up our hands with.
When everybody was done setting things up, they let us start practicing. It was in that moment when I looked around and saw everybody typing along as if it were the easiest thing in the word, without missing a beat. Everybody was excellent at it! My natural reaction: To cheat.
When Mrs Crabb wasn’t looking, I slightly lifted my wrists from the keyboard, to reveal the keys. That way I could get good scores on the typing game. I regret that decision whenever I see people touch-type.

Why it continued

As I grew old, I developed a method to type. My own. The only drawback was that I had to look at the keyboard, that was never a problem because I never had to copy or write things that I didn’t think, therefore, there was no real feeling of missing out. I continued to use this method along high school and College.

When I decided to learn to touch-type

As I used more and more Linux during my college years, I wanted to try different distributions, like Manjaro or Arch Linux. I decided I had to start with the easier of the two, so I downloaded Manjaro and spent more or less a year with it before changing to Arch. As I was using Manjaro, I realized I only used programs full-screen or at bare minimum, split window with another, so I decided I should try out i3.

i3 is a tiling window manager, which simply means there are no floating windows and you don’t have to think about re-sizing them so they fit correctly between them or toggling full screen so that you don’t loose any more real estate. It re-sizes windows automatically so for example. On virtual desktop number 1 I have Google chrome open at full screen and when I press the Windows key and enter, it re-sizes to fit a terminal emulator. Now both programs share the same display, each of them equally.

One of the very attractive advantages is that every action is made with keybindings. This got me thinking about the idea of learning to touch-type because I could never be as fast or productive as someone who knew how to touch-type because I had to look at the keyboard to do everything.

As I grew used to i3, I came across Vim. I was interested in it’s unique approach. I had never seen or used, to that matter a modal editor in such an extent. I really enjoyed coding with it and as I understood it’s dynamic I missed being able to touch-type. Now, I barely use the cursor when I’m on my computer, this helps me loose less time and be more productive. Just imagine how much more I could be if i learned how to touch-type.

I could see the advantages of modal editing and understand why people say then love Vim. It literally allows you to edit as fast as you think. The next logical action was learning so I could streamline my coding workflow.

3 things I do to learn how to touch-type

  • Practice Daily

    I’m using TypingClub daily to practice my typing skills.

  • Use the technique whenever you can

    Use the technique learned even if you are not practicing. It’s very probable that the first days or even weeks of practicing you will feel stupid or unproductive. Hang on! The more you practice, the sooner you will learn.

  • Persist

    Remember, this is an investment. Every time you think you are wasting your time, think about the time you will save in the future.

Common issues

There are a wide number of issues when leaning to type. These are the most frustrating ones in my opinion.

  • Slowness

    It’s dreadfully painful to type so slow but you have to resist the temptation of going back. Stay out of your comfort zone.

  • Feeling unproductive

    This one goes hand in hand with the previous issue. It is very frustrating. Just remember why you are learning and commit to it.

Easing the whole experience

A good way to ease the whole experience is finding a typing buddy. Ask your friends, see if any of them are willing to learn and commit to a schedule. Together.

Final thoughts

Learning to touch-type is a repetitive process. You are basically hard coding the location of every key into your hands and much time is required to master the skill and not even have to think where the keys are and which fingers to use to press them. The more you practice touch-typing, the more natural it will feel and the more you will be able to integrate it in your daily routine.