Laptops and other devices mean you don't have to write your business notes by hand anymore, or even type them out at all. Defaulting to tech-based note-taking might not be the best route, though, with science showing the old-school approach of pen and paper might have bigger benefits.

What happens when you jot notes by hand.

Pam A. Mueller of Princeton University and Daniel M. Oppenheimer of the University of California, Los Angeles performed a series of studies examining how students recalled information when using traditional or tech-based note-taking. They found that, for fact-based questions, students who wrote notes with traditional tools did just as well as those who pounded them out on a keyboard. They performed better than the tech-based note-takers, however, on questions that were more conceptually based.

Based on the results of their studies, Mueller and Oppenheimer theorize that traditional note-taking is advantageous because you can't write as fast longhand as you can with a device. Subsequently, you have to be pickier about what you jot down. The processing your brain does to determine what's significant during this process actually aids memory and recall.

Why a by-hand, concept approach to note-taking makes better business sense.

Taking notes by hand doesn't mean you completely ignore specifics. Even so, it forces you to prioritize and remember broader business principles over facts that might not matter a month, year, or decade down the road. That ability to see the big picture can leave you more adaptable. Because you're not locked into absorbing facts and ideas in a word-for-word way, you might be able to communicate them differently, according to your audience, or think about them more independently, for higher innovation. You might have an easier time remembering information when it counts, too, such as when you're faced with answering an important question in a meeting. It's a solid reminder that, even in the age of Big Data, more isn't always better.

Published on: Sep 22, 2016
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