Soft Reset

Advice, opinions, and revelations of a non-traditional Software Engineer.

Typing Productively

May 21, 2021   ·  3 min

Another almost essential skill and productivity booster is the effective use of your keyboard. Learning to use keyboard shortcuts (rather than a mouse) wherever possible and Touch Typing (rather than the hunt-and-peck method) can greatly increase productivity.

Touch Typing

Touch typing is essentially typing on a keyboard without looking at the keys. Keeping your eyes on the screen or reference material can increase typing speed and reduce eye and wrist strain. There are countless online resources (paid and free) to learn and practice touch typing and it does not require a lot of time investment to master. If you are still using the hunt-and-peck method, or even just a ‘peck’ method, I would highly suggest you learn to touch type.

The online resources are extensive, and I do not have a recommendation as to which is best. I would start with a resource that allows you to practice full sentences and paragraphs, rather than random letters though. Typing actual words rather than just strings of characters will, in my opinion, and experience, gives you muscle memory for specific words. I would also choose one that shows you your words-per-minute, and time yourself before learning touch-typing first to watch your improvement over time. Even though I have been touch typing for as long as I can remember, I still test out my WPM every once in a while for fun.

Once you are comfortable with sentences and paragraphs, there are resources for programmers like that allow you to practice writing the awkward characters found in code.

Keyboard Shortcuts

Secondly, learn keyboard shortcuts! Taking your hand off the keyboard to move your mouse is a huge time hog. It may not seem like much, but if moving your hand to the mouse to select, copy, re-position, and paste text takes 10 seconds, for example, and the same operations take 2 seconds using your keyboard, repeat that dozens of times an hour, and you are saving a significant amount of time.

Those are the most basic operations though. Once you can do simple operations like that, learn how to launch your favorite applications with the keyboard, position them on the screen as you like them, toggle between them, etc. Next, start learning the shortcuts to navigate around within each application you use. Saving a few seconds multiple times every minute while at your computer, over time, will turn into hours a week of saved time.

Happy typing!

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