The value of note-taking—or notebooks at least—gets a stock market capitalization in the coming weeks with Moleskine’s planned IPO. The Italian stationery firm has boosted the profile of note-taking at companies around the world. But is all of the scribbling on nicely bound paper actually helping business people? And what are the best ways to use note-taking—in notebooks and on digital devices—to actually boost your productivity?
Here’s everything you need to know about taking notes at work, but never bothered to ask:
- To have or to take?
… if you have a bunch of pads or notebooks filled with meeting notes that you never consult, your note-taking isn’t providing the most value over time.
- Your boss might judge you if you turn up to a meeting with a paper pad
… Not everyone agrees …
- Digital vs. analog notes
…typing out notes improves later recall, while copy and pasting text into notes is actually detrimental to learning because it encourages wordiness.
…scaffolding notes horizontally across a row of cells, or down a column made a difference in terms of subjects’ ability to recall the information. It didn’t.
And if you’re worried about the environment, Slate weighed the green implications of taking notes on an iPad. The bottom line is it’s complicated, but using recycled paper is better for the world under most scenarios than buying a battery-powered gadget.
- Supercharge your notes
The more OCD you are about organizing your notes, the better.
… the most rigorously structured–those with hierarchal ordering and numbered subsections–were of the highest quality and accuracy. A two-column method came in a close second; these notes were arranged such that the left column contained the information from the given event (i.e. the meeting, lecture or talk) and the right column was used later to fill out follow-up points and highlight key themes. Although these notes were significantly more precise than freestyle note-taking, there was little difference in the ability of the note-taker to recall the material.
- Doodling isn’t just for fun
… mind-mapping to be significantly more effective than just writing out notes. Mind-mapping brings visual structure to notes, usually involving writing one word in the center and drawing offshoots from it with related ideas and phrases.
… the SmartWisdom method (a popular alternative mind-mapping system) and those writing traditional notes found that although there was no difference in the accuracy of the notes, the mind-mappers were able to present the information back with more clarity and coherence than their counterparts.
- The bottom line in note-taking
Underlining something makes it stand out against other words and that makes recalling that word easier. The scientific term for this is the Von Restorff effect.
- Note breaking
… incorporating periodic, short breaks greatly improved the quality of notes taken.
- Note-taking as a legal defense
…The legal stance is that notes will stand up as evidence in court, should you ever need to rely on them.