Of course everyone learns and thinks differently – our brains are each hard wired uniquely – different strokes for different folks.
All throughout my formative school and college years, I was a traditional note taker, writing things down with an old-fashioned pen and paper. Despite the advent of many cool tech tools designed to make our lives more efficient over the years, I’ve stuck to these tried and true tools. They’ve always helped me effectively absorb and synthesize information – especially when it’s complex.
But I know a lot of people use their laptops and tablets for note taking. I’ve always wondered which method was more efficient and effective for grasping concepts.
An NPR article suggests that electronic note taking may not be the better way to do it. The reason is that when people type their notes, they have a tendency to try to take them verbatim and type up as much of the information as they can versus those who take longhand notes and are forced to be more selective about what they write down — because you simply can’t write as fast as you can type. And that extra processing of the material immensely benefits longhand note takers.
So essentially hand writing notes makes the mind do extra processing of the material at hand, enabling you to grasp it faster and be more efficient. And who couldn’t use some more efficiency in their day? I know I can.
When I posted this article on LinkedIn, it got a lot of likes and comments, and people started sharing their learning styles. My friend Nate Jenks mentioned that he uses a hybrid of traditional handwritten note taking along with an electronic system, which is along the lines of what I now do, especially when I am at a conference or in a meeting. Nate uses Evernotes and categorizes his notes with the helpful note taking program. I use plain old Word to help me organize my thoughts. There’s something also about looking at my handwritten notes again and extrapolating the important bits of information from it into an outline or a work plan that really help me retain the information.
I’d love to hear what works for you with note taking!