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Thirty years ago, most senior executives wouldn’t be caught typing. That menial task was for their secretaries. Executives were too important to waste time on typing. They gave dictation – or wielded a dictaphone – and their secretary or the typing pool, probably trained in high school for that role, churned out the final copy.

Today, executives type. In fact, the income group that spends the greatest percentage of their workweek typing are those making more than $100,000 – a surprising 87 per cent of their time. By comparison, people earning from $50,000 to $99,999 spent about two-thirds of their time at the keyboard according to a study by Typing.com, which supplies tools to educators for teaching typing. People earning from $35,000 – $49,999 spent 59.8 per cent of their time typing, and those below that in income hovered at a similar level, well below top earners.

“It’s difficult to imagine any employee in today’s digital work environment who doesn’t use a keyboard to perform even the most basic of tasks, given the average worker types over 4.3 million words annually,” the report says. ”Considering the average employee spends over two hours a day just getting through his or her e-mail, most full-time workers have plenty of time to hone their typing skills when communicating with their colleagues.”

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Generationally, baby boomers – many of whom went to high school when taking typing courses was a sign of a limited future – are the laggards. They spend the least time typing at work of any generation and are the slowest typists. On average, they spend 43.2 per cent of the week typing (still 8,212 words per day) compared to 58.7 per cent for Generation X and 69.1 per cent for millennials.

The slowest typists are male baby boomers, averaging 38 words a minute. Female boomers average 43.6 words per minute. Male millennials were the fastest typists as a group, 56.5 words per minute, with women 1.5 words per minute slower. Generation X were well above boomers but lagging their younger betters, at 48.5 words per minute for men and 51.7 words per minute for women.

Workers in technology, telecommunications, and finance and insurance top the list of industries, spending about 80 per cent of their time typing. “That’s four days out of the average five-day workweek. Put another way, that means they type all day from Monday to Thursday, leaving Friday to perform other necessary tasks,” the report says. The lowest field was hotel, food services and hospitality, at 42.7 per cent of the week.

As you might imagine, typists who chiefly look at the keyboard are the slowest, at 39.5 words per minute, while those whose fingers work steadily while their eyes fix on the screen were the fastest, at 61 words per minute. But here’s a surprise: Folks who use all 10 fingers to type were not the fastest. That honour went to people using five to nine fingers, although just by the slightest margin (54.7 words per minute compared to 54.6).

The eyes may be on the screen or keyboard but often the ears are listening to music. Another study of the modern office, by Olivet Nazarene University, found 53 per cent of respondents regularly wear headphones in the office. The time using them varies widely but 11 per cent say they have them on 75 to 100 per cent of the time. Fifty-nine per cent listen to music, with the next most popular usage podcasts, cited by 21 per cent of respondents. Seven per cent prefer no sound and another seven per cent white noise.

Quick Hits

  • The thing about elephants is that they are not good at hiding, says blogger Seth Godin. If you see an elephant in the room at work, probably others do as well. Instead of being silent, mention it’s there, which is the best way to get it to leave.
  • Here are seven sentences to accelerate your growth, from leadership coach Dan Rockwell: I’m not great at everything. I aspire to improve. I’m not as smart as I think I am. I’m not as right as I think I am. I could be wrong. Other people are better than me at some things. They could be right. Maybe there’s another way.
  • If you’re easily distracted psychologist Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic advises a career as an entrepreneur, in public relations or media work, consulting, or journalism where that could work in your favour.
  • To handle stress, performance coach Melody Wilding suggests applying the four-square breathing method Navy SEALS are taught to use in tough times: Breathe in for four seconds. Hold air in your lungs for four seconds. Exhale for four seconds. Hold your breath, lungs emptied, for four seconds.
  • Research suggests that introverts who fake being an extrovert – forcing themselves to be talkative, assertive and spontaneous for a week – report greater well-being.

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