I’m on summer holiday right now, and like everyone else, I love to just lay down and do nothing at all. However, after a couple of weeks of binging pointless TV series, getting sunburned, and drinking warm beer, I need to do something semi-productive.
I started looking for an interesting 30-day challenge, but most of those challenges are fitness-related. I wanted to do something I could use for next semester, and I doubt my professor would care that I could do 90 burpees in a row.
Instead, I decided to see how much I could improve my typing speed in 30 days. My logic is that assignments are made up of words, and the more words I’m able to type in a certain time period will, therefore (obviously!) mean that I can churn out more assignments in a shorter period of time. Right?
On to the challenge
Anyway, to embark on this vital 30-day challenge, I had to figure out how to actually measure my progress. It seems that the most accepted way of testing (based on multiple Google results ) is to do a 1-minute typing test of the most common words in your language.
The 1-minute testing time makes sense since the speed indicator is usually CPM, or commands per minute. This translates to another common speed indicator, which is WPM (words per minute).
My initial typing speed
I’m a fairly fast typer. Not lightning speed, but I think, like most people who practically grew up with a keyboard, the layout and feeling are second-nature to me. I’ve never really tested how fast I am though. But now that I know HOW to measure my speed, let’s go ahead and do it.
Okay, so I got 89 WPM with an accuracy of over 92%. This puts me in the top 8%, which is pretty good if I do say so myself (the average typing speed is about 41 WPM). Not an embarrassing result for my first test, but there’s definitely room for improvement. As you can see, I made 26 wrong keystrokes, forcing me to backstroke and slow myself down. If I only had correct keystrokes, I would have had a WPM of 94. That would obviously be a lot better but still, I want to get even higher. My goal for this typing challenge is to get above 100 WPM.
To get there, I need to increase my accuracy and my overall typing speed.
How to increase words-per-minute (WPM)
So how do I actually increase my words-per-minute? To answer that, I’ll look to the best typists in the world. Right now, one of the central characters in this cutthroat and competitive field is Sean Wrona. A renowned competitive typist and expert Scrabble player. A true renaissance man.
Sean has held records on almost all typing websites you can think of. His all-time record was on Typeracer with a WPM of 256, which is actually insane.
This typing-titan has been kind enough to share some digit knowledge with us mere mortals. “I believe my biggest advantage in typing is that I do not necessarily use the same finger to type the same key”. Off to a great start, because I don’t either. But that’s mainly because I never bothered to learn the classic 10-finger-system. If that’s not the case for you, here are some other quick tips:
- Don’t type each word at a uniform speed. Speed through the easier words and take a little more time on the harder words to ensure accuracy.
- Focus on the word after the word you are currently typing so there are no unnatural pauses in your typing.
- I recommend using caps lock instead of shift to type capital letters to allow more flexibility in the hand that you would normally use to hit shift.
For more tips, check out Sean’s blog.
Besides the insider tips from the living legend, you have to make sure that you can type without looking at the keyboard.
Have you ever wondered why there is a raised bar on the F and J keys? Well, that’s because you should be able to identify those keys. These are supposed to be the base from where you can locate the rest of the keys on your keyboard.
From there, you can just build it up by memory. So, if you’re not able to type without looking, this is definitely your first stop.
I’ve never really learned this system, but I do something similar. Thousands of hours of gaming has forced me to not look at the keyboard when I have to cast a spell or stop moving when I have to politely tell my teammates what areas they could improve on.
You can learn touch typing here.
My daily routine
I’ll do 9 typing tests every day and I’m going to do them all on 10fastfingers.com, but I’ll do them in 3 different ways:
Speed focus: 3 typing tests where I type as fast as I can, without worrying about accuracy at all.
Accuracy focus: 3 typing tests where I focus strictly on accuracy.
Balanced focused: 3 typing tests where I try my best to balance accuracy and speed.
First of all, I realized that it’s pretty hard for your fingers to type 10 minutes at lightning speed. I had to spread it out a bit more. Since I needed to do three tests, I just spread them out throughout the day— one of each test in the morning, afternoon, and in the evening.
My highest score this week: 93 WPM
My boss didn’t feel it was necessary to expense a ($249) Das Keyboard for this post and further fuel my growing obsession with speed, even though I tried to convince her that Sean Wrona used this very keyboard for most of his record-breaking feats.
As for my typing, my fingers don’t hurt as much since I changed my typing schedule. I’m getting way more annoyed when I mistype a word. I often found myself restarting the typing test if I got off to a bad start.
My highest score this week was: 97
I’m really finding use in Sean Wrona’s tip about only looking at the next word. It’s kind of weird —since I’m not reading the word that I’m typing anymore, I have all of my focus on the next word. I can’t even explain how I’m typing the word I’m currently typing. It’s almost as if my brain has just sent a signal to my fingers and they type it for me while I focus on the next word.
Also slowing down on hard words will boost your accuracy a lot—so definitely do that as well.
My highest score this week: 100 WPM (finally made the triple-digit-club)
It’s becoming a weird habit. Every time I’m not really sure what to do, I automatically open my typing test. It’s almost distracting. Also, I find that whenever I type anything on the computer now, whether it’s a message to a friend, chatting in a game or whatever, I try to be as fast as possible. I have yet to decide whether that’s a good thing because when I mistype in private, I now get way too annoyed.
Aaaaaaaaaaand my final score:
Takeaways from this challenge
So, 30 days spent on improving typing is definitely one skill you can work on before next semester. While an increase of 15 WPM might not really be that impressive, the challenge was fun. The results would also no doubt have been a bit more impressive if I didn’t already have a pretty good idea of typing.
I could type pretty much perfectly without looking at the keyboard and my typing speed was already above average. Still, the WPM increase could end up giving me an edge on my assignments this year. And you never know…if I keep it up, maybe someday I could be considered an equal to the likes of the great Mr. Wrona.
My 3 best tests each day for the entire 30 days