I’m surprised each time when I discover another in the seemingly too long list of people at work who can’t type. The fact that there are people in many modern workplaces who seem to be happy hunting and pecking at their keyboards puzzles me greatly.

Keysleft.com is a simple web site which might help you understand why I’m so puzzled. Keysleft‘s wonderfully clear, and slightly depressing, tagline is: ”**You have a finite number of keystrokes left in your hands before you die.**” They suggest various tricks to reduce how much you have to type, like blogging the answer to questions you get in email and replying with a link to the blog; that way you can reuse the keystrokes you invest in the answer the next time someone asks the same question. Tell Keysleft your age and typing speed and it’ll tell you how many keystrokes you have left in your life, roughly.

There’s an implication to be drawn from the figures Keysleft generates; **learn to type!** You only have a limited number of hours available to type so make the most of it by typing faster or, if Claire is to be believed, drink the right kind of tea. Set aside a few of those limited hours to improve your typing speed and you’ll end up with more emails, tweets and facebook statuses available to you before your inevitable demise. You could even invest some of the additional typing capacity in something enjoyable like a book, a blog post or an essay.

I think Keysleft’s calculation of available keystrokes is a bit off so let’s do my own:

- I’ll ignore typing at home and concentrate on work based typing. (You can think of it as typing I get paid to do…)
- I can type at around 70 wpm, but I’m more likely to sustain around 50 wpm when I’m typing simple things like emails or work notes.
- I spend a variable amount of time at my desk, but let’s assume it works out at only 1 hour a day of actual typing.
- There are 253 working days in a typical year (removing weekends and the UK Bank Holidays).
- I work at a University so we have a very generous holiday allowance which means I’m at work for 216 days a year.

Given the assumptions above I’ll type approximately 648,000 words whilst at work in 2014.

That’s a little shy of 28,000 tweets, close to 6,500 emails or the equivalent of 6 novels (in Harry Potter terms it would be 8.42 Philosopher’s Stones or 2.52 Order of the Phoenixs).

So, when you get an email from me this year don’t think “Oh no! Phillip wants something again.” Think instead that you’ve just received 1/6,500th of my available, paid for, typing output for the year.

[ Word count: ~ 480 or 1/1,350th of a typical work year's output. ]