The forgotten art of taking notes?

Maybe its just me, but…

For the undergrad, postgrad and seasoned researcher, there can be huge amounts of information to digest on a day-to-day basis.  Nowadays there is perhaps an increased challenge of trying to filter good information from the bad, especially if extracted from the internet.  It would therefore seem natural to use effective aids. Time management is one thing; planning the weeks and months ahead can be an enormous help. What about content and milestone management? In some ways as we progress from undergraduate to beyond, we move from a stable bias of library resources to mixed media sources and personal meetings. Such meetings often include defining a set of agreed goals as part of a single project, multiple projects and/or as part of a team.

Thus. What ever happened to taking notes?

A pen and piece of paper can be your best day-to-day friend as you walk amongst varying pressures. It doesn’t matter how crumpled it becomes; an agreed action point or salient message is recorded, inscribed for later retrieval. It’s your ally against moving goalposts. It’s the spark that sets the brain to make connections for learning that new concept.

So why is it a diminishing skillset? Are we becoming too used for someone/something else hosting the content we need?

In many ways there are no excuses as our world becomes ever more digital. The platforms for taking notes now extend across to the digital world. I still love my pen and notepad and couldn’t function without a whiteboard in my office.

Some might feel they can retain the information without any notes. That’s fine. But we rarely work in isolation anymore. I’ve yet to meet anyone who can retain an appreciation of suggested/agreed routes forward without referring back to a set of notes. Even if they do, it’s never complete and it. Given the aforementioned flux of information, wouldn’t your brain benefit from externalizing components for later retrieval? There is research that supports this, and a previous blog referred to a superb book.

There is clearly more focus given to soft-skills as we move through academia. For all of the discussion on personal relationships, teamwork and time-management as training units for new student, lets not forget the essential value of a good note.

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