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Productive on Paper: Taking Notes on Paper

Productive on Paper: Taking Notes on Paper

Productive on Paper: Taking Notes on Paper

By: Johnny Gamber

As an aficionado of sorts in the stationery world since 2005, I love to read research which promotes the benefits of using paper products in today’s ultra-connected, hyper-virtual, super-digital world. One of the benefits that are cropping up in research projects is that using paper to take notes improves one’s memory and comprehension. Taking notes on paper is a useful practice for everyone from students to professionals attending meetings and conferences.

First, the paper one uses for note taking is a mostly single-purpose product. While we can doodle in the margins of notes, the possibilities for being unproductive on paper pale in comparison with what happens when we try to use that hard-won words-per-minute count to take notes on a laptop. As NPR notes, digital devices can be huge sources of distraction. With ready access to Facebook, email, and online games, laptops -- and even tablets -- can defeat their purpose in the classroom. Taking notes on paper can help to keep us focused.

We understand what we hear better when we take notes on paper. Individuals with excellent typing skills are often capable of typing nearly as quickly as a speaker can talk, usually recording what they hear word for word. This amounts to the same task performed by a recording app on one's smartphone. When we take notes, the important thing is to process the information that the speaker is presenting to us. In a recent article in Psychology Today, Dr. William R. Klemm wonders if note taking might be a dying art. He writes, “Just what is it that I think is valuable about note taking? First and foremost is the requirement for engagement. Paying attention is essential for encoding information. Nobody can remember anything that never registered in the first place.” Taking notes on paper forces us to economize our language and to put what we hear into our own words. This requires us to pay attention and to process what we hear, engaging our brains and placing the information in front of our consciousness in a way that performing as human recording devices cannot.

Moreover, taking notes on paper can help us actually to retain the information that we process. Translating the words that we hear into concepts in our brains introduces the data in a way that allows us to recall it better later. The increased effort pays off in better and more accurate memory. This is because we have selected the essential pieces of information for study and because integrating this information into our minds helps it to stick there in a way that is impossible when taking notes verbatim with a keyboard.

Whether with a wooden pencil, an expensive vintage fountain pen with custom-ground nib, or even just that Blic Clic that you pocketed when the server brought your check at your favorite brewpub, taking notes on paper can help you to not only understand but also to better remember what you hear and read. Durable paper goods on which to take notes are vital, and we have you covered. Whether you need pocket notebooks to accompany you on walks or transit rides, meeting notebooks to help you to define further actions, or even simply blank notebooks for general note taking, you will find all of your paper needs to be met by Write Notepads and Co. paper goods. 

Johnny Gamber is a full-time Dad and writer who lives in his native Baltimore in a home full of pencils and notebooks. Find him at Pencil Revolution and as co-host of the Erasable Podcast.

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