Taking Better Notes by Hand

Lauren Krause
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Note-taking skills are essential and are usually learned while you're still a student in school. You were probably taught how to take notes by hand, but a boom in technology has resulted in myriad apps and programs that help you take notes. Still, for administrative and clerical professionals, taking notes by hand is still likely a big part of your daily job.

A recent Indiana University study shows that writing out notes by hand helps the brain retain the information better. Even if you are only writing notes by hand to type into a computer later, remembering the details of what you wrote is still important. To utilize your note-taking skills properly, only pay attention to important details to maximize your retention. You should also minimize distractions to ensure that you are getting all pertinent details down. If you miss something important because you were distracted or paying attention to an unimportant detail rather than an important one, your notes won't be comprehensive.

To improve your handwritten note-taking skills, consider learning how to write in shorthand. Shorthand, sometimes also referred to as speed writing, uses a series of shortcuts to make note taking easier. You can use an established form of shorthand for taking notes or create your own version by using symbols and abbreviations that you come up with yourself. You can even use a different set of symbols for each person you take notes for to make things go even faster. Just make sure that your system is organized and easy to teach to another person in case you need to take time off or can't make every meeting.

You can also take your note-taking skills to the next level by embracing a little bit of technology. This doesn't mean that you are going to dust off your tablet to type in notes, it just means that a device can still help you take better notes, even by hand. For example, you can buy a smart pen that records a digital copy of every note you take, as well as an audio recording of the meeting. This is very convenient because you still get to practice your handwritten note-taking skills, but you have a backup copy of the entire meeting. If you missed a detail, simply go back and fill it in using the audio recording or the digital copy. This means no more panicking if people in the meeting were talking too fast, and you couldn't get everything down on paper.

Software engineers have developed a plethora of programs and apps to take notes, but nothing quite beats handwritten notes. If you prefer to write by hand, you can make your note-taking skills better by learning shorthand and embracing technology like smart pens. They will make your job easier, your notes error-free, and let you continue to embrace technology while still being a bit of a workplace luddite.


(Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net)


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