As an account executive, an important part of my job is being a “keeper of knowledge” and taking detailed notes, as well as tackling projects with clients and our internal team. So, when I came across a Harvard Business Review blog post about the inefficiencies of non-digital note taking it made me think, “what’s the best way to capture information?” The primeval art of note taking may not seem like it’d stem an opinionated conversation; however, there are many thoughts surrounding the best way to organize and capture information — especially when it comes to the digital world.
Notebook, laptop, tablet, phone…you may look around a meeting and find people using one or more of these note taking methods, but what’s best? What’s the most efficient way to jot down important points? Most of all, what’s the best way to make use out of the information you capture?
Why are you taking notes?
This is an important thing to consider — are you simply taking down notes to help you remember the conversation, or are the notes meant to share and visualize the conversation for those who aren’t there? When you think about how the notes are used, this will help you choose the most efficient method.
Digital vs. Traditional Note Taking
Digital note taking has grown in popularity over the last few years. Applications such as Evernote, Onenote and WorkFlowy receive enthusiastic reviews from users looking for a way to fully integrate the simplicity of note taking and “to-do” lists into their digital world.
There are many advantages of digital note taking – cloud support, multi-device functionality, the ability to record sound/video, and, of course, the fact that most people can type much faster than they can write. But in addition to these reasons, digital notes are searchable, sharable, indexable, and allow the user to drop in photos of presentations/white board drawings/business cards/etc.
But, digital note taking also has its downfalls – like not allowing you to easily draw diagrams, sketches and mind maps. Although this becomes a bit easier with tablets, people argue that it’s not as accurate as using a good old pen and paper. In addition, with traditional note taking you can format your text in unique ways that help you visualize and remember the information presented. This visual way of connecting to the information is the main reason why most choose a notebook over their computer, tablet, phone, etc.
So, what’s the verdict?
It really comes down to the note taker. What makes the most sense for you? Are there photos/videos/links related to the meeting that need to be shared? Consider the efficiencies of digital note taking and how it saves you the hassle of typing up pages of notes after a meeting. However, many argue that they take notes by hand because it helps them remember important points that may come up in future conversation. In addition, rewriting key points still proves to be an effective tool to remember information. So, with all that said, I don’t think there is an absolute verdict. Do what makes sense to you. But as we continue down a digital path, consider ways you can utilize technology to make your life a bit easier (and possibly look at it as an opportunity to declutter your desk and throw away that old notebook).
What’s your opinion on digital versus traditional note taking? Do you stick to paper or is there an app that you use to keep organized?