I want to learn to type in Colemak, but I'm afraid to try to invest twenty hours in it. That's a long commitment, and I'm afraid I would not follow through, and feel like it was a failure, because I didn't allot enough time, nor reach a desired level of skill. My hope is that as I outline this approach, it could be helpful to others (or to a future me) who are trying to add to their skillset. Obviously few people are going to learn an alternative keyboard layout. But learning how to learn... the audience is wide for that one.
Here's my rethought out approach:
- Choose a loveable project. I've tried before to learn. I was excited then, am excited now. It's perfectly nerdy, and has the potential to boost my typing speed while reducing finger strain. I work behind a desk for a living - carpal tunnel would be a bummer.
- Focus your energy on one skill at a time. Let it be known - I will spend five hours practicing, and will finish less than a week after the first session. I'll be focused.
- Define target performance level. In five hours I would like to be up to 20 wpm according to Type Fu, one of the programs I'll be using.
- Deconstruct the skill into subskills. Set up new keyboard. Learn new letters. Learn words. Learn sentences. Learn common bigrams and trigrams.
- Obtain Critical tools. Change layout. Change CAPS LOCK to Backspace. Start with this tool to learn the letters. Move to Type Fu once I have letters down at 98% accuracy. Move here for bigrams and trigrams.
- Eliminate barriers to practice. I will start SelfControl for one hour whenever I start training. I have blacklist of all social media sites, Reddit, Hacker News, and a number of news aggregates. All the things I am distracted by on the internet. I will turn my phone off and put it in another room.
- Make dedicated time for practice. I will practice twice a day, for twenty minutes each session. Once when I finish working, and again in the late evening, before bed.
- Create fast feedback loops. Every tool provides accuracy and speed metrics. Very fast feedback loops.
- Practice by the clock in short bursts. Like I said - twenty minutes minimum, thirty minutes max. Short, focused bursts.
- Emphasize quantity and speed. Done.
Below is my "setup", ready for practice. I'll outline the modifications I made to my system in later posts. (Remapping your CAPS LOCK key to backspace is fantastic. I did it about six months ago, and will never go back.)