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I badly want to learn touch-typing because it will enable me not to look at the keyboard when typing and will increase my typing speed in the long run. But I face one problem which is related to "in the long run":

With my "hunt-and-peck" system, I am reasonably fast over 350 characters-per-minute. With touch-typing right now I type little over 100 cpm. The thing is, during work I must keep my speed around the 300 cpm mark, otherwise I simply can not produce the amount of text necessary to get my job done everyday.

So what happens is this: I train a little touch-typing in the evening and several hours every weekend. But Monday-Friday I type ~8 hours with hunt-and-peck out of necessity.

It's like two system fighting in my head. I really want to make the full switch to touch-typing, but this would entail a temporary productivity drop which, although it would be very beneficial in the long-run, I simply can not afford.

Is there anyone here who made the switch from very fast hunt-an-peck typer to touch-typer, and at the same time had a demanding job where he needs to keep high typing speed? How can I can out of this catch-22?

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Do you type "less critical" things at work? Maybe you could touch type e-mails and hunt and peck the official documents? Or touch type the first hour a day and hunt and peck the rest (to keep the average higher)? –  Jeanne Boyarsky Aug 27 '11 at 23:50
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You "hunt-and-peck" 350 characters per minute? That's not hunt-and-peck, not by a long shot. You really have to look at the keyboard? Or do you think you have to look? Test it. It may turn out you don't actually look. –  Jürgen A. Erhard Aug 28 '11 at 21:43
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That's a good point - re "having" to look at the keyboard. I learned I don't need to look at the keyboard when someone stopped by. I turned around and started conversing while finishing my sentence. Regardless, gojira sounds like he/she is at the upper limit of non touch typing speed. –  Jeanne Boyarsky Aug 29 '11 at 2:23
    
Not specifically related to switching to TT without a productivity hit, but here's something that really helped me improve my touch typing: Spend some of your practice time typing with your eyes closed. The instinct to look down at the keyboard starts to go away when looking down doesn't help. –  asfallows Jun 27 '12 at 14:00
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9 Answers

First, is your touch-typing getting better at all? I agree that it's not optimal to have to switch between systems, but if that's what you have to do, that's what you have to do. It's possible that despite the switches to hunt-and-peck, your weekend/evening touch-typing practice will be enough to eventually get your touch-typing speed up to 300cpm, at which point you'll be able to make the switch at work without a loss in productivity.

If you think your touch-typing can't really improve due to the constant switches, you have two options:

1) Wait until you can take a vacation, although I'm not sure touch-typing practice is what you want to spend your vacation on...

2) Talk to your boss about the issue: explain that you'd like to switch to touch-typing and you're pretty sure this will make you better at your job in the long run, but it would cause a temporary drop in productivity while you make the change, and ask if they can think of a solution that would make this feasible.

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I have been faced with the same problem. I don't deliberately train a lot outside work. Sometimes at night and in the weekend but always with some aim besides the training. If I am replying to some emails or chating leisurely I take the extra time to touch-type them, but that's it. I don't spend a great deal of time working through exercises.

What I started doing in the work time is to introduce small aspects of touch-typing in my typing technique. I normally use the middle three fingers on both hands, which means that usually type(d) the A with the left ring finger. So the first step was to introduce the habit of using the left pinky for the A, and keep the rest as is. After that I started using the right pinky for the P, and so on. I currently have introduced both little fingers in my typing for the home and top rows as well as the numbers and using the opposite shift key to uppercase a letter. I am now improving the use of the right little finger for all the accents (frequent in my native portuguese) which is a little more challenging, and next will improve my positioning in the bottom row.

At least for me it has proved to be a very good method. Since the changes have been introduced gradually in doesn't incur a noticeable penalty in productivity and it doesn't require me to spend a great deal of time just practicing the technique. The other thing I noticed is that, after introducing a new "fingering", some time after that (sometimes 1 day, usually more) I start working and notice a great improvement. It's feels like the new fingering has become really ingrained in my technique (can't really be described). I use these moments as the trigger to introduce a new "fingering".

My estimate is that, for someone typing a considerable amount daily, in 3 or 4 months a competent command of touch-typing can be achieved.

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Wikipedia indicates average touch typing speed is about 60 WPM (or 300 CPM given the (un-cited) 5:1 conversion factor). You claim to already be able to type significantly faster than this using hunt-and-peck, which frankly is a little hard to believe.

But assuming it's true: that you're able to type that fast with two fingers while looking at board, then I think your speed is an indication that you could become an excellent typist capable of achieving a more professional typist rate of 100+ WPM, which would still be a significant improvement over your current abilities.

This leads to a follow-up question: What's the time horizon over which falling behind is going to have negative consequences for you?

I ask because someone who does touch typing for a living--and it sounds like you basically do--should be able to get crazy fast, and if you can afford to fall behind for a couple days it should be easy to get that lost/invested time back as your typing speed improves beyond your current capabilities.

A daily practitioner [should be able to type 100 WPM, or about 40 percent faster than you currently hunt-and-peck.

Since your ultimate touch typing speed will be higher than you can currently hunt-and-peck, any loss in productivity experienced at the outset will be balanced out.

For example, if took you two weeks to be as good at touch typing as you were and hunt-and-peck and another two weeks to double it, then after half a month you'd be no worse off and by the end of the month you'd have made up for any lost time.

Now I have no idea what you ultimate top speed will be, or how long it will take you to reach it, but you could use similar reasoning to determine if you should make the switch.

Lastly, be aware of the pejorative viewpoint others may take to someone who hunts-and-pecks; it's likely to be taken (fairly or not) as an indication of someone who is not computer savvy or willing to learn new skills. As such, I would be personally wary of sticking with any habit that could be used (even subconsciously) as a reason to hire someone else over me; especially if my skill set required frequent typing.

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For the record, I personally know people who can do "hunt-and-peck" typing RIDICULOUSLY fast - much faster than my touch-typing speed, which is already a bit above the Wikipedia average. So the poster's speed isn't that surprising to me. –  weronika Aug 29 '11 at 0:20
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I wanted to use a touch typing program to learn the technique and would recommend this program:

TypingMaster Pro has a Satellite feature that can monitor which mistakes you make in other programs and creates personalized touch typing excercises based on that information.

This helped me and no, I am not affiliated with the software vendor. It's payware but a free trial is available.

You may want to consider this software with a full switch to touch typing and 15 to 30 minutes of daily personalized exercises.

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The program which I use is Stamina Touch Typing Tutor, I tested many such program and Stamina is clearly the best, and it's free as in beer. –  gojira Aug 30 '11 at 15:39
    
@gojira: Thanks for that recommendation, does it also learn from mistakes made in other programs? –  Bernard Vander Beken Aug 30 '11 at 16:17
    
It does not learn the mistakes the typist does and adjust the lectures accordingly, if that's what you mean. But it is probably the best touch-typing tutor out there. The author has reviewed a huge amount of touch-typing tutors (typingsoft.com/all_typing_tutors.htm) before writing Stamina and knows what he's doing. –  gojira Aug 31 '11 at 4:45
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Get a keyboard with NO letters on the keys (keycaps). This will FORCE you to type by spacial memorisation.

The key is absolute and total switch from ad hoc typing to touch typing.

Cold turkey is the quickest way.

I think you'll be surprised how quickly you can get back to speed. If you do some training or practicing by following a guided tutorial which makes you type things using a limited subset of keys so that you learn finger positions gradually I think you can make the switch in 2-3 days!

I use "Das Keyboard" (google it) which famously comes with no letters on it. is a very nice keyboard with proper microswitches and keys sprung specially depending on the finger that will strike the key. I would recommend it but it's more expensive than an average keyboard.

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A mechanical keyboard is of corse a must. I don't like Das Keyboard, but I use an "Archiss" (Japanese brand) which is quite good for around 100$. –  gojira Sep 2 '11 at 5:21
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If it is absolutely necessary to type faster at work and you for sure wants to learn touch typing faster, I think the best thing to do is to ask for some days off. Let us say a week or so. Well, this may seem like you are losing money or something, but think about it, touch typing is a crucial investment in your life. So for that one week, vigorously practice touch typing,especially without looking at your keyboard while you type. Within a day or two, you will have mastered the keyboard and you will know where the keys are and you will not have to look at our keys while typing. That is touch typing. Then the next three or four days, keep up the intense practice in touch typing and I promise when you return to work the following week, the hunt-and-peck typing style will be history. Look at it as taking some time off to learn an important skill in your career, and for sure touch typing is very crucial as it will enable you to increase your productivity at work in the long-term. In order to learn touch typing effectively, concentration is needed, otherwise you are going to be frustrated at the slow pace of your progress in mastering touch typing while still hunting-and-pecking at work. This is like learning and unlearning a skill which is more likely to amount anything at all. Just see the one week off as a way to just focus on touch typing and you will thank yourself for this. Until last month, I used to hunt and peck while typing and I could not type literally any word without looking at the keyboard. It was really embarrassing for because her I was a university graduate but I could not touch type, something that was second nature to some of the coworkers at work who did not have a university degree. It was very humbling. So I decided it was time to switch over to touch typing to boost my confidence with computers or at least while typing!♥♥☺! It is worth it in the long-run, I promise!

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Speaking as a 16 year old, typing is easy for me. However i don't use any specific type of typing (thats fun to say...), i am very free form in how i do it. My mother works as a personal assistant / secretary so typing is part of her work, and i believe she uses touch. I can out-type her by about 10 words per minute, and she has no idea how i do it. My belief is that adults are so worried about typing the right way and staying in form, that they forget that the point is to type it and type it quickly, not do it in a particular form. My suggestion to you is to try a touch typing program and get some experience in it, learn where all the keys are and then get some practice typing without looking at the keyboard, but then break from the touch typing form. Let your fingers go wherever, and get used to your own style of typing. It will be much more comfortable and you will still be able to go fast. Like anything, it will take time but it will come to you. However, if you feel you prefer touch typing form, then stick with it; whatever works for you!

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I like this sentiment; generally I agree with "use what works and don't worry too much about it being proper." But, speaking as someone who used to use a free-form way of typing and now uses touch-typing, I am much faster and more comfortable now that I'm using this method. The biggest benefit isn't speed, either, it's the fact that I can be paying attention to what's on my screen while I'm typing, not only to better catch typos but to look out for dialogs or other things that might make the keys I type do something unexpected. –  asfallows Jun 27 '12 at 14:04
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With 70 WPM you are already in the 85% percentile, that means that only about 15% of the population can actually write faster than you do [see typeracer.com].

There are two schools of thought on this:

  1. If you are already very fast with your system, do not change it. The fastest typist in the world Sean Wrona [http://seanwrona.com/] has his own system that no one understands. He might get faster by switching to Dvorak, but he does not do it because his speed would drop significantly during the adaptation phase.
  2. Use a new system, e.g. touch typing on QWERTY, and stick to it. Your speed will drop, but the more you practice the better you get. The worst thing you can do is to switch between multiple systems, as this just makes you overall slower in all systems.

As you already know how to touch type I suggest you stick to it.

Here are some tips how to get over the adaptation phase without hurting your career:

  • Try to improve your touch typing speed to a "comfortable" level as fast as possible. Train at home and on weekends.
  • Bring some typing tasks from work to train at home.
  • Tell your "superiors" that you are actually trying to learn touch typing and your performance might drop for the next few weeks, to increase afterwards.
  • Ask some co-workers if they can help you with your typing tasks for the next few weeks and you will help them afterwards with theirs.

Usually it takes about 2-3 weeks of consistent training to gain a reasonable speed boost, say 45 WPM. With this you are in the 50% percentile, which means you are average.

But you might over think the problem. An average person does not write more than 1000 words per day, that is about 2 full pages. If you write at 20 WPM you need 50 minutes, with your 70 WPM it takes only 15 minutes. If you cut your lunch break and stay a few minutes longer every day you can easily compensate for the 35 minute difference. And remember you need to do this for the first week, then the difference will get smaller.

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Coming in on an old topic here, but I'm trying to learn official method touch typing after a lifetime typing extremely fast using, not hunt-and-peck, but my own crazy blind-typing method. I was very fast with it and I didn't have to look at the keyboard, but here's the thing: I've hurt myself doing it.

It wasn't just my typing technique, ignorance of proper typing posture contributed - but even after fixing the posture problems, my typing method, which involved stretching and twisting my fingers, still causes wrist pain after a short time typing, and it gets worse and worse.

So I'm going cold turkey. It's easier for me as my work is freelance, but I'm basically taking a couple of weeks to do exercises, and when I have to type for real, I'm purposely typing one-fingered so as not to reinforce the old technique. I'm also making an appointment with my doctor for advice. I'm terrified of getting carpal tunnel syndrome and not being able to work at all.

I thought I was OK not typing properly, cos I could type fast. Turns out that wasn't the case. Consider me a horrible warning...

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