One should always be learning new skills to better oneself. A big incentive to creating this blog is to share the skills I am working on learning, either for fun, for career advancement, or just out of plain necessity. Whether Dvorak works out or ends up being worth it isn’t as important as the fact that you are continuing to learn how to learn new skills.
I first heard of the Dvorak keyboard from a professor at university who was teaching a class about computer science. The professor saw that most students in his class didn’t need to be taking a class on computer science. Instead, we talked about personal finance, investments, and Dvorak keyboards.
What the heck is a Dvorak? You’re just a Google search away. Dvorak is a guy who created a keyboard designed to be faster than the typical QWERTY setup. The Qwerty setup was created for typewriters, because when people would type too fast, the typewriter would freeze up. So Dvorak created a keyboard that is supposed to be more efficient, more home key based, and all around faster.
I consider myself a solid typist, having reached the OK plateau right around 100 WPM (words per minute). Like any good American or any passionate cyclist, you always want to go faster. So, I’ve started learning Dvorak. It has been going OK. In case you are curious about overcoming an OK Plateau, you can watch this talk from Joshua Foer, author of Moonwalking with Einstein.
Overcoming the OK Plateau
I started one month ago cold turkey at work. I printed off a page of the Dvorak keyboard from the Dvorak Zine website and went ahead and dove right it.
Going from 100 wpm to something like 6-10 wpm is very, very humbling. The cold turkey was not going to work very well since I type out weekly reports at work and communicate with clients.
As with learning any new instrument or skill, it is frustrating at first, and often seems impossible. But I am on the upswing! I have not yet reached the OK plateau.
The current update puts me right around 31 wpm average after a week. You can view my chart from over on 10fastfingers here. Add me as a friend and we can compete!
Once I reach 150 wpm I expect this to be a very valuable skill. Because of this, I have done a number of things to commit myself, in this order. It is working, and I am improving a bit each day. At this point my current regimen has me doing simple typing exercises for about 15 minutes each day. Other than that, I just do my normal thing, but choose to use the Dvorak Keyboard.
FULL DISCLOSURE: I am on a time crunch and have work tomorrow morning, so this post was written on Qwerty. Next post will have to be Dvorak.
Here’s what I’ve done step by step.
- Started cold-turkey on work computer. Practiced using Type-Fu on Chrome.
- Saw improvement over the course of 2-3 weeks or so. Had vivid dreams of me typing out specific letters that are in weird places like L, F, and Q. Reached about 12 wpm at this point.
- Began studying up a bit more seriously. Got fast enough to communicate in Instant Messenger at work in Dvorak. Instant messenger is the best place to improve typing speed, in my opinion.
- Nothing new, just slowly chugging away towards 20-25 wpm.
- Type-Fu free trial ran out, purchased for $5 on their Google Store. May sound expensive, but remember, we are learning what will become an amazing skill to have. I just wish that Type-Fu had the same social media competition platform that other learning sites like Memrise and Duolingo have.
- Went full immersion. Switched my phone keyboard to Dvorak finally, switched my home laptop to Dvorak which has made a HUGE difference, and started quantifying my progress by trying to take a 10fingers fast typing test each day. It is improving. Slowly, but surely.
Long term my goal is to reach 140-150 wpm. SInce my max speed with qwerty is right around 105-110, I think this is very realistic. I thing the challenge will be not making mistakes, and taking the time to slowly practice letter order in words to be able to spell complicated words without regular mistakes.
As with any skills, there are always the naysayers. You know who they are. They’re the kind of people who tell you not to bike across America because you’ll get raped and mauled. By bears. They say things like, “Oh, I know someone who tried doing that once and they failed.” or “I saw some blog somewhere that said it’s not worth your time and effort.” Ignore them. Turn your back on them and don’t listen to a word. These are the kind of people who are going to continue living their lives in ordinaryville, never challenging themselves to get better at anything. Is that what you want for yourself? I didn’t think so.
Interested in joining me in learning the Dvorak keyboard? Please do! Let me know on here or on the 10fastfingers site, because, as with any skill, if you can turn it into a game or a competition it is better and faster!
You can add me on 10fastfingers here.
Thanks for reading. Keep on learning!