29 things: How to touch-type

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I am not literally going to tell you how to touch-type, but I thought I would share some of the lessons I learned from learning to type. I originally learned how to touch-type as part of the All-In-One productivity software on a DEC VAX mini-computer in the mid-90s. All-In-One did a good job in terms of drilling my fingers but it was as boring as sin. I boosted this up with Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing on the Mac, which I enjoyed in glorious 16-shade greyscale during my first year in university.

Mavis Beacon has been around for time and for good reason, its an effective and efficient typing tutor. The different games that it takes you through were cheesy as hell a decade and a half ago and now have a bit of a retro charm. It is easy to overlook their motivation power.

I used to do a 30-minute session every day on typing practice. At first it used to hurt as you use miniscule muscles over and over again, programming your fingers to do your will. A good keyboard is crucial.

What makes a good keyboard? It has a full complement of keys. The key mechanism is good, its not rubbery, it has a mechanical action and the computer doesn’t need to make a keystroke noise as the keyboard works up a storm telling you itself. Generally speaking, the kind of keyboard that sits at the back of the IT department’s junk cupboard, is about 10 years old and beige or ivory in colour is probably right for the role.

So you are going to give up 30-minutes of your day for at least four months on something that is pretty boring?

  • Your typing speed will double: this paid me back in spades when I worked in a call-centre and logging press responses when doing media sell-ins
  • You’ll spend more time looking at the screen rather than the keyboard,  you can get to look around once in a while
  • It’ll help your posture. I’d argue that this is the most important thing, there is plenty of other ways to damage your back in an office during your long and hopefully rewarding career in PR

If you don’t have your own computer, there is a couple of online typing tools which would do the job: Visibone and PowerTyping.

Posts in this series

29 things: the basics of how to record audio

29 things: how Wikipedia works and how to get involved in the process of having a post changed

29 things: how to tweet

29 Things: Understand the nature of conversations and their appropriateness for your client

29 things: how to use Google for fun and profit

29 things: how to use an RSS reader

29 things: how to organise a PR account

29 things: how to embed pictures and video

29 things: how to create a link

29 things: how to touch-type

29 things: how to manage your communications platform

29 things for PR people

This was the post that started it all: 29 not-very-technical things that every PR person should know