You might think that it’s only a question of getting your fingers properly trained in order to be a fast typist, but in fact your entire body is involved in the process of touch typing. Muscles, nerves, and tendons are connected throughout your body from your toes to your fingertips to the top of your head. If there’s tension anywhere, that stress is communicated throughout the rest of the system and will affect your typing speed. In order to stay relaxed and in optimal typing shape, follow these ten ergonomic tips:
Tip #1: Elbow Position. If your arms have to work hard to support your hands and fingers on the keyboard, that increases tension in your shoulders and neck. Make sure your elbows are comfortably supported and relaxed at the side of your body.
Tip #2: Chair Height. In order for your elbows to be in the right position, your chair needs to be at the right height so that your arms aren’t in an awkward position. However, your feet need to still be touching the ground, with your upper legs parallel to the floor.
Tip #3: Wrist Support. Don’t let your wrists dangle, or use too much effort to keep them in position above the keyboard. Try a keyboard shelf to adjust the height of your hands and forearms.
Tip #4: Desktop Height. There’s only so much you can do to adjust your chair height, so look also at the height of the work surface. You need enough height to leave space for your legs, but not so much that you have to reach up for the keyboard.
Tip #5: Monitor Position. You should be looking straight ahead at your computer screen, with the image at eye level, without having to tilt your head in any direction.
Tip #6: Monitor Distance. Keep the screen between 20 and 40 inches away from your eyes. If you have problems seeing the screen, try increasing the text display size. Don’t forget to get your vision checked regularly.
Tip #7: Arm Position. If your desk and chair are at the right height, you should be able to work with your arms flat, keeping your fingers and wrists in a natural, neutral position.
Tip #8: Wrist Position. “Neutral” wrist position means that your wrists aren’t bent forward or backward. There should be a relatively flat line across the top of your forearm over the wrist and to the back of your hand.
Tip #9: Optimal Visibility. Glare on your screen is bad for your position and your eyes, and too little light is just as bad. If you find yourself leaning forwards to squint past glare or see more clearly, reposition your monitor or adjust the lighting in your workspace.
Tip #10: Workspace Arrangement. Keep your desk de-cluttered and you’ll find that it’s easier to keep your keyboard and monitor in the best position. To help with both posture and efficiency, try using a document holder placed just to the side of your screen at the same height so that you can easily move your eyes between the paper and the display.