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There is a continual drive at work to complete tasks faster and more efficiently. This includes the many communications we need to write from emails to reports and other documents. For many office workers, this means spending a sizeable proportion of the day at their computer keyboard.

It makes sense that fast and efficient typing would be a required skill. Yet, look around the office and you’ll notice most people will be using the ‘hunt and peck’ approach to typing. Using a small number of fingers, and relying on the mouse rather than keyboard shortcuts, can slow you down enormously. 

Here are 3 essential steps to increase your writing efficiency.

1. Learn to touch type

If you think you can type fast enough using 2 fingers it might surprise you to learn that the average speed of a hunt and peck typist is 37 words per minute. When typing with all 10 fingers you can increase your average speed to around 60 words per minute. The fastest touch typists can even reach 100 words per minute, with the fastest hunt and peck typists lagging at 70 words per minute at top speed.

Touch typing is the ability to type with all 10 fingers without the need to look at the keyboard. With touch typing, each finger is given its own section of the keyboard. Hand movement is limited to only what is necessary to press a key, and fingers are kept close to the base position. With regular practice, and by gaining muscle memory, your fingers learn the location of the keyboard. Speed and accuracy increases with practice. Because you are able to read what you write as you type, you are also likely to make fewer errors when you touch type.

With the hunt and peck method, you need to search for the keys and are unable to look at the screen until after you have finished typing. Your fingers are also not likely to be close to where you need them over the keyboard, making it a less efficient as well as less accurate method of typing.

Anyone can learn to touch type. To get started go to:  https://www.uow.edu.au/student/learning-co-op/technology-and-software/typing/

2. Use keyboard shortcuts

A keyboard shortcut is a sequence of keystrokes that can be used to perform a command on a computer much more quickly than alternative methods, such as using a mouse.

Using keyboard shortcuts can save you up to 8 days a year, according to research. This claim is calculated on the basis of someone using a keyboard 8 hours a day. It is based on the premise that people lose 2 seconds every time they use the mouse to switch back and forth between windows or commands, instead of using a keyboard shortcut.

Open a document.Ctrl+O
Create a new document.Ctrl+N
Save the document.Ctrl+S
Close the document.Ctrl+W
Cut the selected content to the Clipboard.Ctrl+X
Copy the selected content to the Clipboard.Ctrl+C
Paste the contents of the Clipboard.Ctrl+V
Select all document content.Ctrl+A

If you find it difficult to remember the shortcuts, print out a list of the ones you commonly use and post it somewhere clearly visible near your workstation. Soon the shortcuts will become second nature to you.

For more shortcuts go to Windows shortcuts

3. Use a comfortable keyboard

Once you start typing at speed with 10 fingers, you’ll truly appreciate the benefit of a comfortable ergonomic keyboard. With the proper hand positioning as you type, ergonomic keyboards can help you increase your typing speed as well as reduce discomfort while you work.

With fast typing speeds, use of shortcuts and a comfortable keyboard, it is theoretically possible to write 2,000 words in under an hour. This is based on a typing speed of 50 words per minute and allowing for several pauses to think. Realistically, writing a communication from blank page to publishable final draft of 2,000 words will take more than an hour once you factor in research, planning, review, editing and proofreading. But there is no doubt that enhancing your keyboard skills to speed up the time it takes to write your first draft is not only possible but makes good business sense.

Feeling pressured by deadlines? For all your written communication needs, contact Concise Writing Consultancy on 02 9238 6638 today or email patricia.hoyle@concisewriting.com.au