Why I love taking notes, (and I’m not even that good at it)

I’m putting my heart into a packaged software implementation in Columbus, Ohio. As I’ve been getting into the groove with the new project, part of my approach with new systems, new people, new environment, is to take a lot of notes. It’s an essential part of my approach.

Here’s why.

  • Taking notes encourages discipline

  • It moves the brain and its processes through the making of meaning out of what is being said

  • Provides look back anchors, both on paper, and in our minds, to help recall the experience we’re documenting

  • Contributes to mindfulness by forcing the mind and body to focus on what’s happening now

  • Encourages team engagement as we focus more deeply on: self, environment, one another, the work

  • Provides a healthy, productive ritual to our daily experience

  • Encourages scanning our environment, gathering intel (value)

  • As 4 out of 5 digital privacy experts agree, our written record remains within our control regardless of what happens on the internet

Notes I take in meetings are my own creative work. I scribble diagrams. I draw lines through words and sentences, I draw arrows and connectors. I circle important things.

But what about typing?

A few people ask “why paper and pen?”, since digital options for note taking have improved and expanded so much in recent years. Am I an anachronism?

Some people are GREAT at ten finger typing. I’ve seen one or two who can do it so smoothly, with so much grace and finesse, that they can truly be present in a conversation as they capture their notes using a keyboard. I believe that this is a rare skill, and it’s not one that I possess. But even if I was a great keyboardist, I would still prefer writing.

Why I prefer writing to typing:

A keyboard makes a clickety-clack sound that many find annoying. I think this sound distracts from the conversation.

When I type, it look like I’m not paying attention. It’s kind of amazing how differently perceived written note taking is compared to typing. Think about it. Have you been in a meeting where laptops are open and people are typing? How have you perceived this? Be honest.

Try it

If, for any reason, you think I’m wrong about this, my response will be “what do you have to lose?” For the cost of lunch out, you can become journal ready. I’ve given links for a couple of my favorite notebooks, as well as to the pen that I’ve become most attached to. There are tons of options for note taking. Give it a shot!

Moleskine Classic Notebook - Sapphire Blue

Black n' Red Ruled Business Notebook

EnerGel® Deluxe RTX Liquid Gel Pen