Why Fast Typing Speed Is Counterproductiveby@msokola
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Why Fast Typing Speed Is Counterproductive

by MatéushMay 22nd, 2023
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Typing 150+ words per minute won't help you get things done. The most of our jobs require critical thinking and performing analysis. Companies don’t hire software engineers to write code but to solve problems. You cannot type faster than AI model. Machine will always beat you, so that your typing speed becomes even less relevant.

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Typing 150+ words per minute won't help you get things done. Likely it will do the opposite.

Do you notice that the most popular YouTube channels on productivity have one thing in common? They have at least one video on typing 150+ words per minute. Does it matter how fast you type or is it yet another reason to procrastinate?

Nowadays every office worker needs to know how to use a computer and be keyboard proficient. Most of our jobs require critical thinking and analysis. The typing speed isn't the factor that slows down work. Usually, our brains aren't capable of processing data fast enough to keep up with our typing speed.

Stephen King is one of the most prolific authors. He wrote 64 novels and he writes up to 2000 words per workday. If we assume he writes for 6 hours daily. It means he types about 340 words per hour (not per minute!). King is creative but his limit is his brain's computing power, not his typing speed.

You might say that you are a developer, and you cannot relate to the most creative writers. Companies don’t hire software engineers to write code but to solve problems. The amount of written lines of code isn't the measure of your skill or impact. The companies want you to complete your tasks in the simplest and fastest fashion.

If you are new to software engineering and you love your job. You might feel tempted to write everything from scratch. It is great since at the early stages of your career you should produce as much code as possible to gain experience. As you grow, you will discover that your job isn't about code itself.

Most companies require product sales for revenue generation, necessitating the integration of a payment system. However, developing such systems from scratch is often impractical. Instead, companies should prioritize their core business and delegate payment processing to established providers like Stripe or Shopify, who charge a fraction of development costs.

Consider the intricate nature of a customized payment system. It must incorporate fraud detection, secure credit card storage, and customer support. Creating such a system would consume months and incur millions in expenses.

As you progress in your career, your mindset shifts from being a code producer to a code reducer. The goal becomes minimizing code in your project, as each line adds complexity and cost. Once a project grows, maintenance takes precedence over new features. True excellence is achieved when coding is unnecessary to solve a problem.

I have worked at 7 different companies. Successful and failed startups, SMEs and enterprises. In my entire career, I have never seen a developer who could write more than 500 lines of code in a workday.

Based on my observation: senior developers write between 100 and 250 lines of code per workday. Actually, junior developers write more lines of code than seniors. Since they usually receive well-planned tasks.

Let’s assume you are an outlier and you write 500 lines of code per work day. Most teams restrict their line length to 80-120 characters. If we assume that an average word has 5 characters each line would have up to 16 words. 500 lines times 16 words per line sums up to 8000 words. It is four times more than Stephan King. If you are a “slow writer” and you write only 60 words per minute. It would mean you will write those 8000 words within about 2 hours. I want to emphasize one fact - it is four times more than Stephan King does during his work routine.

Nowadays tools such as Github Copilot or ChatGPT completely changed the coding game. You cannot type faster than an AI model. The machine will always beat you. So, your typing speed becomes even less relevant. But, it doesn’t mean that you can write with one finger. You must be keyboard proficient and be able to type without looking at your keyboard. When you reach the pace of 80-120 words per minute your job is done.

The greatest impact on your career will be learning code syntax and design patterns. How to write loops, when to use singletons and why you shouldn’t do it, dependency injection, inversion of control, facades, decorators, and so on. If you work on a new codebase the majority of the time you will write code. After working on the project with many developers you will find out that you spend more time reading code than writing.

After I graduated college I moved to Vienna, Austria to start my first real job in IT. Austria is a german speaking country and they have different keyboard layout. I am used to the English international keyboard. The German keyboard layout is so different even apostrophes are in different places.

The company I worked for encouraged pair programming sessions between developers. Imagine my frustration during pair programming sessions with my Austrian colleagues. When I tried to type an apostrophe and got an umlaut. About 4 years ago I moved out of Vienna. I never learned German keyboard layout but I’m glad that I never did. English is the lingua franca of programming. We should not only speak and write code in English but should use the same keyboard layout when we code together. In the end, if there are ISO standards for time and dates why shouldn’t we have one for keyboard layouts?

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Thank you for reading.

I started it in response to a younger me who felt lost and needed to find a career path on his own. Today, I am a software engineer with 10 years of experience living my best life as a digital nomad.