Time to stock up on those Moleskines! Whether you’re taking a class, participating in a work meeting, or discussing a diagnosis with your doctor, jotting down notes can help you remember important details that enable you to make sense of a topic so that you can take action. But rather than typing your notes on a laptop or phone, experts say writing them by hand is best if you really want to understand something (via BBC).
Even productivity expert David Allen of Getting Things Done has noted that the “easiest and most ubiquitous way to get stuff out of your head is pen and paper” (via The New Yorker). But what is it about this tactile method that makes it more effective? Research from Princeton University and the University of California, Los Angeles, has shown that students who type their notes do worse than students who take their notes the old-fashioned way when quizzed about concepts. The reason for this is “shallower processing,” so be sure to get that budding scholar in your life a notebook and a nice pen or pencil!
Here's why taking notes by hand is more effective
Even with the distractions of Animal Crossing or Fortnite being just a swipe away, you would think typing would be more efficient than capturing notes by hand since most of us type faster than we write. But taking it slow in this case appears to have advantages.
“When people type their notes, they have this tendency to try to take verbatim notes and write down as much of the lecture as they can,” says study author Pam Mueller of Princeton University (via NPR). “The students who were taking longhand notes in our studies were forced to be more selective — because you can’t write as fast as you can type. And that extra processing of the material that they were doing benefited them.”
So if something’s important enough to note, you’re better off taking the time to summarize the most important points in your own words. Remember that it’s quality, not quantity, that counts if you want note-taking to be worth your while.
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