IT ANSWERS – Is Typing Speed Important?

No matter where you go on your job search these days, “technology” know-how is essential, and no matter what you heard, your typing speed is important!  For many jobs outside the shores of Nigeria, typing speed is a prerequisite for the job and we are sure it is finding its way over here slowly, so do why not get ahead of the curve and speed up your keystrokes.

The way a person’s proficiency rating in typing is measured is by speed: words per minute (wpm) and they say a speed of 40 wpm is the basic minimum standard required by many employers and government positions overseas, so we need to match or better theirs.  Effective typing speeds should be at least 3 – 4 times your handwriting speed. It’s a shame we don’t take it as seriously as we should, because we everyday see a lot of companies/government organizations in Nigeria that take Typing Speed for granted.

Back in the day the Typewriter was an essential tool in the work place and typing speed and skill was valued vey highly. As the typewriter moved on and the computer took its place people, seemed to care less over here while outside the country and in large corporations it is a pre-requisite. It is important as this could be what makes your application stand out over the next guy and also, as the world seems to keep improving and technology with it, we know keyboards will always be with us and we better stay ahead of the curve.

Even though there is a whole generation of computer literate people out there (and growing larger everyday) who have never even seen a typewriter, let alone used one, today’s job scene requires computer keyboard skills which demand typing speed and accuracy.

Being fast on the keyboard is of no value if what you type is not accurate. It’s true that you can be very accurate if you type with two fingers and stare at the keyboard, but you know that will cost you in terms of speed. To have both speed and accuracy combined can only come from training your fingers to know the exact location of every key on the keyboard. Typing Speed and accuracy suffers when you have to remove your eyes from what you are reading to hunt and peck your way through the next sentence.

Just think about it, have you ever seen someone who has mastered the keyboard when they are typing a document? It’s like watching a grand pianist playing in concert. Fingers fly and words almost scream across the screen. How do they get this good? Practice… and you can be just as good too.

So the basics to improved typing speed and accuracy are to improve your Motor or physical learning, and this happens with repetition.  Your fingers will ‘learn’ the movement patterns and paths for each letter.  The less you rely on your vision, the more your fingers take over the motor tasks of ‘remembering’ the position in space of each letter.

Developing automatic movements and increasing speed requires the following steps:

1.   Learn good technique first
Learn where the keys are and which fingers should be used for each key. Also use good body and arm/hand positioning – good ergonomics.  This will be the basis for long term good typing habits.

2.   Repetition – repetition – repetition
Automatic movements are only developed through plenty of repetition and practice. Every athlete and sportsman knows that regardless of talent, practice is what makes the body work well.

3.  Don’t look
No matter how tempted you are, once you have learned the correct finger placement, practice typing without looking.  Being tempted to look reduces the motor training effect, and relies on vision.

4.  Be disciplined!
This point cannot be emphasized enough.  Instead of focusing on accuracy of key hits, rather work on your SPEED.  You can make corrections later, work on getting your speed up without looking!  Put a towel over your hands if necessary.

On the internet there are thousands of free websites which help improve your typing speeds, some focus on repetition, while some on the placement of the fingers and which finger presses which key. There are also many downloadable software options that help with lessons and tutorials with exercises, making the learning process move more smoothly.

A popular option is Mavis Beacon as they have been around for years and many learnt initially with them, but they have stepped up their game as the times keep changing (http://www.mavisbeacon.com/). I recommend their free “Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing 17 Deluxe” which can be downloaded also at CNET.com.

Another great option is GS Typing Tutor which can be found at http://www.typingstar.com. It gets you where you need to be with; typing lessons, use of an onscreen keyboard, lots of games and a way to track your improvement. Mavis has these as well but GS packages it all better.

More fun options can be found at http://www.touch-typing-tutor.com/. They have games which utilize the keyboard, subconsciously teaching you where each key is, while you have fun with it at the same time (My favorite is “Typing Invaders”).

With all this said and done, I would like to leave you with a saying we all have heard before; “Time is money” so with that in mind, the faster you type the more time you have and hence the more money you save.

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