Colemak Keyboard Layout, 1 Month(ish) In

Typing is one of the most important aspects of my professional career.  That’s why, a month ago, I decided to change my keyboard layout to Colemak.

The first hurdle I faced was switching in December, what a weird time to switch right?  I was supposed to be scaling down and focus on relaxation, but I thought the switch to be such a huge challenge, that It wouldn’t matter when I did it.

The second hurdle: I went cold turkey. I simply switched, printed out the new layout, gave it a solid glance and memorized all the new positions and kept it next to my desk. I watched my typing speed go from 35 WPM(words per minute) to 9. And my frustration levels go into the red.

I started to use this at work immediately. I warned my team mates and just jumped in. A good thing this sort of thing is encouraged at Automattic.

colemak_print_out
Learning the new layout.

The two things that helped me the most during the first month was Type Fu and a supportive team.

With Type Fu you repeatedly type similar phrases until you “master the keys. At this point, you move on to the next level with more variation. It also has a setting to select the keys you battle with and only focus on them.

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Doing typing drills in Type Fu

My current speed is 30 WPM. I use it as my default layout and I’m way more confident than I was a month ago. My main take away is that, if I can go from 9 -30WPM in a month then I’ll be more productive as time goes on.

I hope to increase this as I continue to practice every working day.

Colemak Fingers

I’m switching to Colemak. It’s an alternate keyboard layout that allows you to type while your fingers travel shorter distances. You can read more about the reasons this is better than QWERTY here: http://chetansurpur.com/blog/2012/11/colemak.html

My main reason for switching is that so many others at Automattic made the switch and had only good things to say. For me it came down to comfort, speed and the joy of trying something new.

I was considering the impact that this will have on my work as a programmer, but figured there will never be a good time to do this. There will always be deadlines, things to get done and communication to be had. So now is the best time.

Also, it’s time to try something new as QWERTY hasn’t done me much good. My current typing speed and accuracy is terrible and I experience pain in my wrists. I pathetically type 30wpm with 77% accuracy. My goal is 100wpm with at least 90% accuracy.

I hope to improve accuracy and typing speed and so my productivity and reduce fatigue in my fingers.

I’ll write more about my journey.