Notetaking: An Overlooked Productivity Tool

Notetaking is a natural and essential part of student life. As adults, we lose a sense of the importance of taking notes, choosing instead to bookmark or clip something to read later on. There are countless studies that prove the numerous benefits of intentionally taking notes while consuming content. But truly, if you just take the time to try it at least once, you’ll see just how powerful notetaking can be in the retention of information. The effort of active listening, viewing, or reading content and putting it into words helps to keep it in your long-term memory. You’ll never get this benefit from passive consumption of content.

Of course, the manner in which you take notes will improve its effectiveness. But don’t get so involved in the nitty-gritty of notetaking that you fail to take action. While some may support longer, more extensive notes to aid retention, more concise notes may be just as effective. The key to shorter notes is to write a memorable summary of the information in your own words. Replicating the content verbatim is not as effective as making the content your own and recording your reaction to what is presented. Keep in mind that you don’t have to limit your notetaking to words alone. Sometimes a sketch or map of the content could leave a lasting impression.

Notetaking improves retention, but what about productivity? This is a publication on productivity after all. How can notetaking increase your productivity at work? Is it even possible? Let’s explore.

Notetaking encourages active listening

Apart from active listening, notetaking promotes engaged listening. Notes are a record of the information gathered from a presentation, report, conference, etc. They provide a prompt for later reflection if you have to apply the information in your daily tasks. If your company invested in employee training, a lot of that information – more than 70% according to studies- will be forgotten in the first week, unless you take notes. Reviewing your notes and making connections between them is a good way to deepen the impression and improve understanding. The greater your understanding, the more productive you can be.

Notetaking brings vital information to the forefront

The key points of a presentation are not always obvious. While some presenters make it a point to emphasize the main takeaways others may be quite vague. You don’t have to miss a thing if you learn how to isolate important points and condense the information in your own words. This effort to actively listen (see above) and summarize the information will improve discernment, communication, and productivity. You can use pictures, maps, diagrams, or questions to create a summary for review later on.

Notetaking supports organization

As you take notes, you decide on the method of organization you’ll use to record the information and create structure. You’ll also create links to other points in the current presentation or make associations to other presentations. These connections may be a springboard for new concepts that you should immediately record – they can just as easily be forgotten if you don’t. Keep your notes organized by the addition of supporting points for each main point. The organization of your notes combined with connections and new ideas will improve your productivity as you use them to creatively solve problems at work.

Improves your memory

Back to the retention of information. Notetaking, even lazy notetaking, will have a positive impact on your productivity at work because it will improve your ability to remember. The fact that writing a careless note is more effective than omitting this step altogether is no excuse for sloppiness in your notetaking. First, you must know what to record. Stick to the facts and make it concise. Writing too much can cause you to miss key points. In some situations, you may be better off hand-writing your notes and translating it to your digital notetaking app later on.

Notetaking saves time

You will ultimately save a lot of time if you take organized notes. For example, your employer calls a planning session to get everyone prepared for a big project. Your ability to actively listen and take concise and clear notes will determine how quickly and easily you can get started and act on key decisions made during the meeting. With the key points lodged in your memory, you can get the ball rolling instead of losing time trying to decipher what was said and what you should be doing.

Notetaking increases concentration and understanding

As an extension of the time-saving point above, notetaking will also improve concentration and understanding and hence boost productivity. Once you have all the essential information to perform your duties, you will then be in a better position to concentrate on the task at hand. A huge factor that impacts workplace productivity is an employee’s lack of understanding of his/her role and function and how these contribute to the mission at hand. Whether you gain clarity by reviewing a company manual or in a meeting with a superior, you should take notes and review the information whenever you need.

Notetaking improves planning

In your everyday duties at work or in the planning of an important project, meetings and emails are commonplace. Collaborating with team members – sometimes with members from different time zones, and updating on deliverables can be overwhelming. Instead of managing every request one email or meeting at a time, you should create a comprehensive note of all the information and follow that up with a to-do list for each day or each part of the project. In this way, you’ll have the big picture first and a manageable way to organize, prioritize, and complete your duties. A to-do list is effective to stay on track, so you don’t miss a thing. It removes the negative effect and burden of trying to remember what needs to get done and failing to complete something that is vital to your team’s success.

Notetaking creates a reference

It’s a costly mistake to depend on your memory in general but especially when it relates to your duties at work. What would be your position if your supervisor requested a report from an employee training seminar? Would you be prepared to present the information? Notes provide a reference of key information that we need to remember. You’ll lose what’s important in the sea of information that constantly bombards our minds hour after hour. Notes are critical for future reference – they’re easier to review than going back to a manual or reviewing a recorded seminar to gather a snippet of information.

Notetaking relieves stress

It’s difficult to be productive when you feel stressed. One of the leading causes of workplace stress is information overload. Stress has a negative impact on collaboration, communication, decision-making, and efficiency. Notes can help you to stay organized, manage and prioritize your tasks, declutter your thoughts, and plan your day. When you have the big picture outlined and a plan to move forward, you will be better prepared to filter out the noise and focus your energy on what really matters.

Notetaking and productivity go hand in hand. The impact is mostly positive when you do it intentionally with the benefits in mind. This one tool is irreplaceable – even with all the new technology available. In fact, technology testifies to the power of notetaking with all the various apps available for every notetaking style and purpose. You can reap the benefits of taking notes by hand and transferring them to a digital app such as Relanote for storage, organization, and connections to one another. Notetaking apps are widespread for one main reason – their impact on productivity.