Don’t Tell Me How Fast You Can Type

Everyone wants to be more productive, it seems. The whole world, especially in business, wants to get more done faster. Freakonomics Radio even did a podcast dedicated to exploring how to be productive.

To-do lists, task prioritizing, effective organization — all yielding positive results toward higher productive outcomes. Yet none of these take into account one very key skill that can get hours back in the day: typing speed.

Everyone Can Learn to Type

Typing is a physical skill. Like shooting a basket or ice skating, anyone with a basic sense of coordination can learn how to type well, and with consistent practice, obtain proficiency.

Most administrative jobs require candidates to type at minimum 60 words per minute (WPM). We might consider this a benchmark for effective productivity in the data-driven environments nearly everyone works in now.

Typing Speed Impacts Your Work Day

I recently received an 546-word email. The email itself was unremarkable, except that the sender had previously shared with me that he can’t type faster than 12–15 WPM. If that’s true, then we can expect he spent somewhere between 36–45 minutes crafting his message — and that’s just counting the time he spent actually typing (not reviewing, editing, etc.).

Should he take the time to practice his typing skills, he could someone easily (I believe) achieve a speed of 20 WPM, taking only 27 minutes to write that same email. If he pushed on to 30 WPM, 18 minutes.

I have an average typing speed of 85 WPM. That same email would have taken me 6 minutes 30 seconds to write.


Typing is a clear productivity multiplier. As long as the keyboard is still our main method of getting information out of our brains and into a shareable format, typing proficiently is an easy means to raise our collective productivity.

Recommended Typing Practice