Guy Katabi / Published January 14, 2020
The average typing speed is approx. 40 words per minute. Using the right tools and methods can at least double this figure, and leave more time for creativity. This blog post features 5 ways to significantly boost your typing speed and overall productivity.
#1 – Use Predictive Typing
Predictive typing solutions for PC keyboards are way different than what we currently have on our mobile phones. Instead of selecting between different word options after each and every tap on the screen, predictive typing solutions offer just a single confidence-based suggestion. This basically enables us to focus on our content instead of being bothered by multiple suggestions showing up after every keystroke.
By combining a single suggestion with sophisticated AI prediction technology, we can significantly improve our typing speed when using computer keyboards. According to a recent review by TheWindowsClub, typing speed can increase by 30-40 words per minute after getting used to the new predictive typing experience.
Currently, there are two main PC-oriented predictive typing solutions out there:
First, Google’s Smart Compose is a predictive typing feature for Gmail. Once activated, word predictions will show up as you type. Google’s prediction engine combines trending phrases that are in wide public use with your personal typing patterns. To accept a prediction, you need to press the right arrow key. If you’re not seeing any predictions, make sure that ‘writing suggestions’ option is activated in the Gmail Settings menu. Currently, Smart Compose is supported in 5 languages – English, Spanish, Portuguese, French and Italian.
The second predictive typing solution for PC's is Lightkey. Lightkey is a Windows software that helps you write emails, documents, presentations and more. Lightkey offers relevant predictions when creating any kind of content, ranging from casual to professional. Lightkey’s prediction engine is solely based on your personal typing style and it can predict up to 12 words including punctuation marks in over 80 languages.
Lightkey supports a large variety of applications, such as Microsoft Word, Outlook and PowerPoint as well as Gmail, WhatsApp Web, LinkedIn and more. To accept Lightkey's predictions, you can use either Tab or Enter, depending on your personal preference.
If you wonder about privacy, Lightkey does not submit any of your content to the cloud and does not rely on internet connectivity whatsoever.
#2 – Take A Free Online Touch-Typing Course
The idea of touch typing is being able to type while keeping your visual focus on the screen. Otherwise, shifting your visual focus between the keyboard and screen can slow things down and make the whole typing process fairly inefficient – and if this is the case for you, learning touch typing can significantly increase your typing speed and overall productivity.
Nowadays there are many ways to learn touch typing and sharpen your typing skills, however the most intuitive and accessible way would be a free online course. TypingClub offers a great free online course in multiple languages. Their progressive course focuses on small achievable tasks. Once accomplished, your eyes can be completely focused on the screen while typing.
For example, I’ve taken the free online English course and as you can see the first lessons are focusing on specific key combinations using both hands. As you progress in the course more keys come into play improving your ability to work with all 10 fingers on multiple keys simultaneously.
Alternatively, if you find such courses dull and prefer games – our next item is just for you.
#3 – Play Online Touch-Typing Games
Playing touch typing games is a great way to have fun while improving your typing skills. There are plenty of online games and most of them offer increasing levels of difficulty.
Ratatype offer comfortable groups where you can compete with friends, classmates, colleagues, and anyone else! You can see who has completed more lessons and who has higher typing speed. Racing on the keyboard will help to bring the team together in a fun and interesting way and improve the typing skills of each of its members.
If you want to explore more online games just Google ‘typing games’ and see where it takes you. Have fun!
#4 – Switch To a Split Keyboard
One important aspect that I haven’t touched yet is wrists health. Heavy use of computer keyboards may lead to repetitive strain injuries, eventually resulting in reduced productivity. One way to make a positive step forward is replacing your standard keyboard with an ergonomic split keyboard. The are two significant benefits for using a split keyboard: First, the physical split will align your hands better with your shoulders, reducing wrist strain and risk of carpal tunnel syndrome, and second, it will create clarity on which hand should reach each key, especially around the center key column.
My personal journey with split keyboards began with Microsoft's 'Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000'. I found it to be a great starting point for my needs. It improved my typing comfort with a relatively modest change to the physical keyboard layout. However, after typing for about 10-12 hours per day I felt a need to step up to the next level. After a thorough research I found the 'Kinesis Freestyle 2' keyboard to be the best choice for me. Although it took me a couple of days to get used to this keyboard, the reward of more relaxed wrists was definitely worth it.
#5– Use Dictation
Generally speaking, we talk at an average rate of 120 words per minute. That is 3 times faster than the 40 words per minute average typing speed. This basic math tells us dictation could be a very useful alternative to typing. Nevertheless, keep in mind that dictation does have its inherent limits. Here are a few guidelines that can help you decide whether or not to choose dictation over typing:
Have a clear understanding of the content you want to create. If you’re contemplating your content and go back and forth editing during the process, using dictation may prove to be quite a challenge… ‘Delete that, move 2 words back, add an apostrophe, go one word forward, replace it’… doesn't sound like fun and is obviously slower than just using your keyboard. However, if you have it all clear and ready to go, a simple dictation session can work like magic. The distinction is between dictation and creation.
Stay in a proper environment with low background noise. Otherwise, additional vocal noises may get in your way and interrupt both your ability to focus and the machine’s ability to understand what you’re saying. Keep in mind that nowadays speech-to-text engines do a better job in separating your voice from the background than ever before so just give it a try and see whether the environment you’re in is dictation-friendly or not. Staying in a non-private or public environment? you may want to think about privacy issues as well before you start talking.
Feel comfortable enough thinking and speaking your thoughts in the target language, especially if it is not your native language. Streaming your thoughts in real-time is not that trivial and requires practice. Keep that in mind and be patient if you want to get used to dictation.
Windows 10 has a built-in dictation tool that delivers decent performance. To activate Windows dictation, simply type the WinKey+H combination and start talking. For example, if I will say “I am trying to write something using my voice”, initially the dictation engine will understand “write” as “right” but a few moments later, after analyzing the complete sentence, it will figure out the right option (pun intended).
Similarly, Google docs has a great dictation feature to help you with your online documents. Just go to tools on Google docs, and click on “Voice Typing”. If you want to use dictation without relying on internet connectivity, consider using Dragon. Dragon’s speech to text software can work offline and it offers some additional features like voice commands that give you full control over Windows using your voice.
Bonus – Use A Text Generation Tool
Text generation is based on the idea that we provide a small piece of text, let’s say an introduction paragraph or in some cases even a single sentence, to an AI-based system and it will compose the rest of the text for us. It won’t make you type faster, but it can definitely help you come up with new content without typing.
There were times where text generation was as a joke when 3 MIT students decided to create academic papers by throwing random words and graphs. They were so good at it that they actually managed to get 3 of their randomly generated papers to be accepted for academic conferences! You can check out one of these papers here.
Fast forward to 2019, Open.AI research lab released GPT-2 – an AI-powered text generating system. Initially, Open.AI’s researchers decided not to release it due to concerns about its potential malicious use in creating fake news or other malicious content – but eventually it was released.
If you want to give it a try, go to https://talktotransformer.com/, start typing something, and let its AI-based engine inspire (or surprise) you.
Mastering typing is still an important skill to have going into 2020. Using the right keyboard with sharp typing skills powered by prediction technology, along with the ability to dictate your ready-made ideas, can be a very powerful combination.
Please use the comments section below to share your favorite way to speed up your typing and be more productive. If you found this blog post helpful please give it a thumbs up and share it with your friends.