Taking notes by hand can improve your retention and productivity.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past…lots of years, you probably use a laptop or some other computer (smart-phone, tablet, etc.) to help you remember and do just about everything. Everything. But according to several studies, it is much better for your retention, understanding and synthesis of ideas to write things down. Especially if you are a student taking notes in a lecture or if you are in a meeting at work. According to one recent study conducted with college students by Pam Mueller and Danny Oppenheimer that appeared in the June, 2014 issue of Psychological Science, they instructed half of the students to take notes by hand and the other half were told to use their laptops. Shortly after the lectures, the students were tested on the factual aspects and then their conceptual understanding of the topics. In all the tests that measured conceptual understanding, those that took notes by hand performed better. Much better. Writing notes out by hand, or even just listening to someone talk, and writing down important points forces your brain to actually use cognitive functions to synthesize the information you’re hearing and only write down the most important things, in your own words. This helps you to better remember what is said because you probably aren’t The Flash and can’t write down EVERY word that comes out of someone’s mouth.
Plus, the internet exists. Along with a ton of horribly distracting apps, websites, social media and cat videos. And nowadays (yeah, I said it) you pretty much will always have internet while in class or at work. So, if you want to really remember what the heck was going on in that important meeting, try leaving the technology aside and taking notes with those flexible, helpful little appendages attached to your arms, and a pen and paper (recycled of course).