From college to law school, to the professional world, plenty of people have told me about how many words they can type per minute. You always hear the stories about assistants and writers clocking in 80+ words/minute. The ubiquity of computers and their necessity for everyone’s work requires that you type quickly to be effective. I have always been interested in improving my typing speed.
Just as quickly as I can put words on the page, though, I wondered how I could spend less time deleting and manipulating text I had already put on the page. Editing is just as important as getting the words on the page for the first time. Here’s what I have figured out over time:
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Do not reach for your mouse when you need to locate, select, or delete portions of text. Avoid repeatedly hitting the delete/backspace key to delete entire words and sentences. Instead, use your control key and directional buttons plus shift/delete/backspace key to select, move, and delete (respectively), entire portions of text at once.
Did you know that your ctrl key does a whole lot more than just Ctrl + C (copy) and Ctrl + V (paste)?
Do a quick experiment:
Type out a sentence, and see how long it takes to completely delete that sentence by solely holding down the delete or backspace key. (I just did it using this sentence and it took about five seconds.)
Now take that same sentence and hold the Ctrl key while you hit backspace/delete.
I used the same sentence and deleted the entire thing in less than two seconds when I held Ctrl.
“If you love life, don’t waste time, for time is what life is made up of.” ~ Bruce Lee
We all make mistakes when we type, and fixing mistakes takes time. If you tend to type a lot, that time adds up more and more.
I will not even get into all the time people spend going back and forth from having their right hand on the keyboard to right hand on the mouse, but we could probably agree that it is about one second.
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Think about how many seconds you could cut out of your drafting and add to your accurately typed words per minute if you spent half the time removing bad text plus one second saved on each edit for which you would have previously used a mouse.
Next time you are drafting a document, blog post, or writing a message to a friend or colleague, try using the Ctrl key along with the delete, backspace, and arrow keys, to quickly delete and locate text, respectively.
You can also use Ctrl + Shift + arrow keys to select whole words (left and right keys), or entire lines (up and down keys).
If you have a typing speed that you’re currently proud of, see if you might introduce this technique to get a few extra quality words in each minute.
Author: Ryan Ullman
Ryan Ullman is an attorney at the boutique law firm Spence | Brierley in Baltimore, Maryland. He is particularly interested in technology, productivity, peak flow states, music, and the outdoors.