This is a guest post by Laura McLoughlin. She writes for My Own Stationery, a leading personalised stationery e-seller based in Northern Ireland. At over 100 years old, they have considerable manufacturing experience in the making of paper stationery products, and are dedicated to eco-friendly production with Swan label, FSC and PEFC certification.
Although note-taking apps have become some of the most popular technology tools for businesses, paper and pen note taking is still the preferred way for most people. And it’s not just because of our long-standing love affair with beautiful stationary, as shown by the 2million+ Instagram images featuring the #notebook hashtag. Using notebooks has a proven tangible effect on our productivity. Here are just some of the reasons why:
We all know that feeling of having to read the same paragraph three times before we take in the information. Well there’s a cure for that, because we engage better with what we’re actually listening to, reading or watching, if we’re simultaneously taking notes.
Note taking is a slow task, even for the fastest of speed-writers. That isn’t a negative though, because it forces our brains to critically analyze what we’re taking in and pull out the most important pieces of information. Thereby practicing our critical thinking.
Not only does writing information in a notebook improve our concentration and critical thinking, but it’s also been shown to improve our recall. The reason we struggle to do so without taking notes is because of the theory of “cognitive overload” – that our brains can only hold so many pieces of information at a time, before things start to “drop out.”
As a productivity tool, the whole point of brainstorming is to put down every idea and thought, without priority or judgement, to get ideas out of our heads so they can be analyzed and sorted. Business mogul Richard Branson is known to carry his notebook everywhere and credits writing ideas down as a main factor for his success.
Scheduling Ideas for Productive Time
One of the biggest issues in productivity is that the times of the day where we feel most productive are changeable. They can be impacted by factors such as lack of sleep or stress. Noting ideas saves them from being lost and means we can return to a great idea when we’re in the right frame of mind to really work on it well.
Linked to this is the fact the sometimes great ideas are fleeting. We may have them on the bus, just before we fall asleep or as we’re rushing out the door to a meeting. Keeping a notebook handy ensures these ideas are not lost to the failure of our short-term memories.
The Power of Doodling
As well as taking down information, notebooks are great for doodling. The impact of doodling on lowering stress and improving productivity has been proven by research. So much so, that brand giants like Google and Facebook are trying to use visual communication more to improve productivity and creativity among their employees.
Notebooks are a great tool for mapping out complex ideas to make sense of them. This enable us to provide context and explain challenging concepts to others in a comprehensive way.
While notebooks are most often used for to-do lists, the productivity benefits of these aren’t limited to the time we save trying to remember things. We are able to work better, and feel less stressed, when we are organized. Then, when tasks are completed, we get a sense of satisfaction with each item checked off the list, increasing our motivation to keep going.
Note Your Goals
Keeping track of longer-term, bigger picture goals is as important to productivity as getting the minutiae of our daily tasks completed. This is because working on the wrong things, that don’t move us closer to our goals, is not actually time well spent.
Track Your Goals
Some of the goals we work towards may be a great many steps from where we are now, so while noting end goals will keep us focused, tracking progress is equally important for the journey to success.
Note Your Frustrations
You can use a notebook to vent about stressful or frustrating situations in any aspect of life. Writing things down allows us to feel closure and move on from negative experiences, creating better team cohesion and a more positive work environment.
Without a notebook, it would be easy to forget all of the work we’ve done. Everything achieved – big and small – each day, can be better appreciated when it’s there to see in your own handwriting, a reminder of the progress made towards your goals.
Being rundown and sick is the villain of true productivity. One of the most important factors affecting our immune system is sleep. Taking notes before bed helps to empty our brains of worries and tasks, easing us in to a better night’s sleep, and effectively boost our productivity.
While note-taking apps are popular among tablet and smartphone users, their productivity is still bound by the realms of technology. A notebook won’t run out of battery, meaning you can keep brainstorming and writing, without losing any time or ideas.
Another area where the traditional paper notebook trumps the apps is in its simplicity – which keeps us focused. There are fewer distractions with a notebook. No social media, pop-up notifications, or time-wasting websites to get lost in!
Note taking is a way of keeping our body physically involved in whatever activity we’re taking notes on, be it a meeting, a class, or during individual work. This helps keep those feelings of drowsiness and distraction at bay that threaten to eat up our afternoon productivity levels.
No Delete Button
A common frustration among note takers who have a preference for clean notes is the fact that notebooks don’t have a delete button. The workings out are left messily on the page. Yet that is part of the power of notebooks for productivity – forcing us to get all the ideas out first, before we start editing away the details with a delete button.
Notebooks are small and compact by design. They aren’t heavy or expensive. We don’t have to worry about them being stolen for sale. They don’t require chargers or accessories. As far as productivity products go, they’re the least likely to slow us down or cause us trouble. Not to mention notebooks are also aesthetically pleasing. You can choose from a variety of cover textures, page paper weights, and even binding type.
In a world where we increasingly work, play and socialize in front of screens, we’re consistently being advised to take time away from them. Non-screen time spent writing in a notebook has benefits for our physical health, our mental well-being and improves our productivity!
For a more pleasant writing experience, make sure you choose the right kind of pen for the job. It’s already happened to me a couple of times in the past: writing on a nice smooth page with a mere hotel ballpoint pen can be distracting–as if my thoughts weren’t getting transferred onto paper how I wanted. Use Pilot’s G2 gel pens to make sure nothing gets in the way of your train of thought.