I was very lucky in high school that our school arranged touch typing lessons for my year. I was elective but I was keen to learn this new skill. I went every week for 3 months to the local college (in Australia this is called the TAFE – Technical and Further Education College) to sit at an electric typewriter to learn. We had an old typewriter at home and my hands weren’t big enough to touch type properly, so an electric typewriter was a thing of beauty.
What a gift it was that when I went to University I could touch type. PCs were still expensive and it was almost unheard of for students to have a laptop. We had a computer building at University where you’d find a spare PC and spend hours and hours typing out your assignments and projects, reading from your handwritten scribbles. From early 2000’s onwards, as PCs became more commonplace in offices (I am part of the transitioning generation), my opportunities expanded as I am part of a generation who grew up alongside the evolution of technology. I grew up in a time before the technology of today.
What my 3 months at the local TAFE in 1996 means is that I can touch type around 90 words per minute when I’m at my peak with an accuracy around 95%. It was easier for me to work as an administrator as I already had developed touch typing skills when technology developed. What is your speed for touch typing? Find out here : http://www.typeonline.co.uk/typingspeed.php
Why write a blog about this? Because even if you are two finger typist (and you rock by the way) the skill of typing has become so important to business owners. BUT, let’s not forget what is fast becoming the lost art of writing with a pen. When was the last time you wrote out something more challenging than a shopping list or a quick note? I love calligraphy but it was a skill, unlike touch typing, that I didn’t nurture.
As I write this blog out longhand my hand is cramping from my writing skill that is becoming less and less used in my business. My handwriting, formerly neat and tidy and precise (I was the kid at school to strived for handwriting awards) becomes a barely legible scribble upon the page. I’m disappointed that I spend so much time typing and not enough time writing, but as an administrator, I’m practically always on my PC or phone. I try to write out notes, blogs, to do lists on paper, but gone are the days of writing out pages and pages of thoughts and ideas on paper. This is highly useful for transcription, dictation and meeting minutes, don’t get me wrong, but I’m disappointed that I now always reach for my laptop rather than a notepad.
Do we now take the ability to write for granted? Actual pen on paper? Do we tend to ignore our notepads more and more because it’s so much faster to type, technology makes it so much more convenient to use software and online devices?
It begs asking the question – what does QWERTY done to us?
(If you’re not sure what QWERTY is, it’s the name of the English keypad layout – the first row of the letters of your keyboard spells out QWERTY.)
How much do you appreciate a handwritten note or a Christmas card? Someone has gone to the trouble to handwrite something to you. Do you realise how valuable and precious that is compared to an email (one of the hundreds you emails you probably now get almost daily)? Do you now only type a letter, print it and just sign it as a measure of your effort to connect? I once made the effort and wrote a letter to someone. I emailed and asked them for their address so I could post the letter to them. They suggested I just scan and email the letter to them (my heart broke just a tiny bit that day).
I encourage you to write down your thoughts, goals, ideas using pen and paper. Don’t lose this valuable skill to QWERTY and the irresistible virtual world of technology we are now so dependent on.