How to Boost Productivity with Your Keyboard

Sometimes the biggest changes come from the smallest, most surprising items.

Stever Robbins
4-minute read
Episode #439

We love being productive! And we look for big, honkin’ ways to be more productive. Things like forming habits through triggers, or setting up a new email system. We like big changes that we think will have a big effects. But as my episode on 30 minutes a day points out, there are small behaviors that add up to the greatest gains of all. And the smallest behavior for the greatest gain? It’s at your fingertips. Literally: your keyboard.

Invest in a Touch-Typing Class

You’ve spent thousands of dollars to learn important professional skills. You went to college. You indebted yourself for life, all to become a Master of Stuff That Matters. But once you’re in the “real world,” the gatekeeper of our hyper-technological society rears its ugly, snake-encrusted head: your computer. Everything gets done, 24/7, through your keyboard.

Enroll in a touch-typing class. Find one online. Get a book and practice. It’s a few weeks’ of work that pays for itself for the rest of your life. Faster typing means faster anything-that-requires-typing. And these days, “anything” is the new “everything.” All the time. So a 10% increase in typing speed will give you a 10% increase in productivity across the board.

If it’s worth going into debt to learn about mid–13th-century Russian Popes (Were there any mid–13th-century Russian Popes? I went to an engineering school), it’s worth going into debt to make everything better for the rest of your life. 

Type Less

You can type faster with touch typing. And you can also just type less.

Letters were an artform in Renaissance Europe. Before typing, before the printing press, you had a box on your end table. A beautiful, hand-carved box, closed with a tiny clasp. You would open the clasp, ever-so-gently, and demons would pour out of the box, take over your soul, and wreak havoc on this plane of existence. So please, don’t open that box.

Try a mechanical keyboard. You’ll never go back to a sub-par, cheap-plastic keyboard again.

The other box on your end table, however, contained quill pens and parchment paper. Both of these were expensive, difficult to manufacture, and incredibly fragile. So it’s no wonder that Shakespeare said “brevity is the soul of wit” — he wanted to keep costs as low as possible! If he’d been a better wordsmith, he would have just written “keep it short,” which was half as long.

Treat your laptop like a quill and parchment paper. Every word costs money. Or at least, it costs time. The less you write, the less it costs.

Keep your e-mails and texts to three sentences. When a message gets longer, stop and trim. If you can’t trim, pick up the phone and call. Even if you get voicemail, you can leave a voicemail far faster than you can type.

You can find the three-sentence guideline, and a link to the website explaining it, at GetItDoneGuy.com/three. Use their text as your e-mail signature, and soon the entire world will be concise, pithy, and brief.


About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins was the host of the podcast Get-it-Done Guy from 2007 to 2019. He is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.