Take Notes on Paper (but Write at Your Computer)

Notes I took during class at university. There are even more playful ones, but this was a pretty good scan.

I a recent radio interview, psychology graduate student Pam Mueller told the audience that taking notes of meetings or during class on your computer is a bad idea. You forget the things faster.

Plus you can’t sketch anything quickly when you’re using a computer.

Over the years at university, I adopted notes which were highly visual in style, not unlike Sketchnotes which I heard of many years later.

As we’re telling students in our coaching at my part-time job at university, it’s always better for your brain to add another layer of information: space, color, image, sound, smell, story. I think that’s why hand-written notes work better: you claim the space on paper in a unique manner. Even if you don’t add many visuals.

Using a computer or tablet or phone to type words requires you to be in a different mindset than writing with pen in hand. That’s why Sascha and I advise everyone to take reading notes on paper first. The gap between paper-based reading notes and the book or article you’re reading is smaller, even if you read on a digital device. Typing will always be more challenging, and switching back and forth will ruin your focus.

So take notes on paper, but write on your computer, since you’ll be about twice as fast to finish a first draft and produce more during the process.