How do you break bad typing habits?

03 Jan 2020

Breaking bad habits is not easy. You may have heard that it takes 7 days to develop a habit and 21 days to break one, that may not be true as research show. Breaking bad typing habits can be done, but it can be frustrating.

The easiest way to break a bad habit is to not allow a bad habit to develop in the first place. With keyboarding, that means starting typing instruction early, in first and second grades. If students are shown how to sit, recognize the home row, and some of the basic reaches, those bad habits (especially Hunting and Pecking) will never develop.

Identifying the Problem

When it comes to keyboarding, there are plenty of "bad habits" that you or your students can fall into. We like to often remind students and teachers about the SECRET to keyboarding:

  • S - SIT up straight, arms and wrists straight.
  • E - Keep your EYES on the copy.
  • C - Use CORRECT fingers.
  • R - Keep a reasonable RHYTHM.
  • E - Eliminate ERRORS properly.
  • T - TAP your keys as if they were hot!

Often times, we forget one of these things, we get lazy, or were never taught them in the first place. Over time, those bad practices become bad habits. It is often easier to develop proper habits from the beginning so that bad habits never form.

Breaking the Habit

There was an old saying that it can take 21 days to break a bad habit. Newer research actually indicates that bad habits tend to take 66 days to break, and up to 254 days in some cases. So can you or your students break a bad habit a little faster than this? Probably, but it will involve lots of practice and a lot of frustration.

Once you know what the bad habit is, the next step is to break the habit. Like any bad habit, it will not be easy. You will have to put a physical or mental block in place to stop doing the bad habit and start typing the right way.

If hunting and pecking is your bad habit, you can use physical blocks, like keyboard covers, or digital blocks like the Blackout Timing screen and the Timer Timeout that are provided with Keyboarding Online. Using these methods, you can break that bad habit over time. It won't happen immediately, and it will be quite frustrating for you or your students.

If you are using incorrect fingering on specific keys, the best thing would be to practice repeatedly on those problem keys. When you are not practicing inside a program, you should be consistent in your normal day-to-day typing as well. Over time that awkward feeling of using a different fingering will start to feel natural, and your bad habits will go away.

Preventing the Habit from Returning

Once you put those mental and physical blocks in place, those bad habits will start to fade away. By the end of a course, or semester, or year, your bad habits will hopefully be replaced by good habits. Practice shouldn't end there, however. Those bad habits can comeback if consistent re-inforcement is stopped.

With typing, proper typing form should be followed at all times, not just during Keyboarding Class. A single year of keyboarding will not make someone and expert typist with speeds over 50 WPM. That comes with time. Students should be enrolled in classes yearly through their formative years, and then encouraged to type properly the rest of their lives. The initial frustration from breaking those habits will be well worth it when you or your students can type accurately at incredibly fast speeds.