One week of touch typing ⌨️

I thought I knew how to type.

For years I’ve been able to type without looking at the keys and I could get used to a new keyboard in hours, if not minutes.

Then I bought a new keyboard that looks like this:

Glove80 ergo mechanical keyboard in the travel case

and realised how wrong I was.

Hunter Pecker

It turns out I’d become extremely proficient at hunting for keys and pecking at them with my index fingers. My hands knew where all the keys were but I primarily used my index fingers to push the buttons.

Maybe the button was far enough away from the centre and I’d use my swearing middle finger. Or it was right on the edge of the keyboard and I’d use my ring finger. 

It worked for me for years, adapting from keyboard to keyboard and I could type at around 100 words per minute.

Using 100% of my brain

When I got my new keyboard I decided to learn it properly. 

I’d watch the videos, follow the guides and use the many different training apps available.

And I’d use my little fingers if I had to.

I considered switching to a more modern keyboard layout, one that was designed for better efficiency, but I wanted to learn the new keyboard first.

A new layout can come later, then I’ll be using 100% of my brain.

Training regime

I got my new keyboard on the 2nd of May and each day I would practise typing on keybr

It’s important to not overdo it, so I would spend about 30 minutes of typing and leave it for a few hours before having another go. I set the timer on keybr to 2 hours per day, the highest it would go, and stopped when I hit it.

Or I’d stop way before then.

Typing was painful!

It wasn’t a sharp pain, and it wasn’t severe, but years of only using 2 or 3 fingers to type had to be unlearnt and my little fingers had more buttons to press than ever before.

Some days it felt like I wasn’t getting any better and I would never learn how to do it, but each morning I would find my fingers a little stronger and that my muscle memory had adapted a little bit more.

Apart from that one time I went to type on my Macbook and I glitched.

Hands hovering above the keyboard my brain couldn’t find the relevant instructions to function and my whole body froze until it did.

keybr

I settled on keybr over the others because the guided lessons limited the keys I had to press and only unlocked the next key when it thought I was ready to progress.

Which was a bit weird, because my fingers knew where the next unlocked key would be before my brain told them where it was.

I felt like an octopus the way my hands moved without my brain ever telling them where to go.

graph showing typing speed, accuracy and unlocked keys on keybr.com

In total I’ve spent 12 hours doing 730 lessons on keybr. The graph above shows my typing speed in green, accuracy in orange and the purple line shows the amount of keys unlocked. 

You can see the day I thought I knew what I was doing and then found out quickly that I didn’t.

Sometimes unlocking a new key would throw everything off balance and I’d have to adjust what I was doing. Or sometimes the new key would put something familiar on the map for my hands to anchor around.

After 12 hours of practising I’ve unlocked all the alpha keys on keybr and my brain’s adapted to the new layout. 

I was even able to type this blog post with my new keyboard!

Room for improvement

I’m not very fast at typing right now though.

This is where the other apps come in.

  • monkeytype is for whole-word training
  • type-fu is another app for whole-word training
  • ngram is for typing ngrams (sequences of characters) to reinforce muscle memory

I’ll probably cut down my 2 hours of dedicated training to something more manageable but I’m going to need to keep at it. 

It’d be a bit embarrassing sharing my screen at work right now with me typing so slow and making so many mistakes.

Even worse is that I’m a programmer and I haven’t yet learnt where all my symbols are?!

Stats

Day 0: 100 WPM on my regular keyboard

Day 1: 15 WPM on my new keyboard

Days 1-7: practising on keybr for 2 hours per day

Day 8: 60 WPM on my new keyboard

Paul Tibbetts @paultibbetts