Creative Leadership

Why Aren’t You Taking Notes By Hand?

In most meetings these days, I’m surrounded by people taking notes on a computer. In church, I watch people taking sermon notes on their mobile device. I’m not interested in being the note-taking cop here, but it may be time to face the mountains of research that indicates taking notes by hand increases retention, and helps you remember more. Don’t believe me? Here’s the opinion of PBS’s Nova, and this is from Scientific American, and this is a recent piece from The Atlantic. There are plenty of others.

Certainly it’s nice to keep notes all together in Apple Notes, Evernote, OneNote, or other online resource, but here’s why I still do it by hand:

1) You can write by hand and still keep your attention focused on the speaker. It’s just not the same on a computer, and it’s virtually impossible typing on a mobile device. By the time most people have typed one point out, they’ve missed the speaker’s next point.

2) You can underline, circle, make arrows, and other visual signs much easier and quicker on paper. And at least for me – those visual indicators are nearly as important as the notes themselves.

3) Using a physical notebook allows you display the notes more effectively when you’re writing a paper, an article, or book. (Again – at least for me – I can more easily remember the note’s location in a notebook, than somewhere buried in pages of online typing.)

Ultimately, it’s why I created my Unique Creative Planner.  Check it out, because once you discover the benefits of a printed schedule, you’ll realize it’s not going backward, it’s going forward into a more productive future!

Try it. I think you’ll find that your memory will thank you for it. And check the links above to get all the reasons why the research points to the same thing.

What about you? I’d love to know if any readers have had the same experience…

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  1. Phil, what you say is true. Note taking does help and I have been an avid note taker until recently. I discovered onenote and evernote apps and they give me an added advantage over note taking by pen and paper. I AM ABLE TO STORE THEM AND RETRIEVE THEM, ANYWHERE & ANYTIME! That’s why a die-hard note taker has become app-savvy!

  2. Phil, this is so true for me. I gave up being ‘cool’ with computers and smart phones several years ago and have gone back to taking notes on paper which does help me as I’m a tactile learner and the extra touches help me with retention and heck I just like to add doodles as well — it becomes a work of ‘art’-LOL. To help me find it later I do take pictures with my iPhone and upload those into my Evernote filing system for ease of finding the note later or at a time when I have long since retired that particular notebook to my office.

  3. Now comes the issue of legibility. One cup of coffee and I can write prescriptions for any Dr. on the planet! In fact, I entirely agree with you, Phil. It’s just that my right hand doesn’t always cooperate. I do know, however, that at times I now can write in ‘tongues!’

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