The Brooks Review: Handwritten Notes

Ben Brooks

When I started work at MartianCraft I decided that I would try to shake up some of the ways I worked. It felt like the right time. And since I knew there was going to be a great deal of things I would be learning, my note taking system seemed like the ideal candidate.
I threw out my entire structure for digital notes, grabbed a few Field Notes and started scribbling notes in them. After a month or so, I had decided the experiment was enough of a success to warrant moving to a better notebook. I looked around and decided on the Leuchtturm1917 journal as it looked nice, had solid reviews, and mostly it was on Prime.
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Except, the research doesn’t back this up at all, which is a large reason I decided to make a go at hand written notes. What many studies have found is that students taking handwritten notes instead of typed notes, perform better in recalling the subject matter and in being tested/graded on the subject matter than do their counterparts who took notes on a laptop.
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As I thought back over the frustration of searching analog notes, I realized that I only really searched through them a handful of times. Talk about exaggerating memories. I also realized most of those searches could have been predicted. Because of this I have started to use the infinity symbol on the top of a page of notes which contains things I think I might want to later search for. This will hopefully be a flag upon which I can home in on when I am searching a book of notes. The trick will be using it sparingly.
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What is really bothering me about all of this, is I can’t wrap this up with a neat bow and tell you whether or not analog notes are better. It bothers me not because it makes for a crappy ending to an article, but because I really want to know for myself.

My system, since I started using pen and paper for notes almost four years ago, have been to use pen and paper when I do it to remember it, and to use digital when I know that it is something I am going to search for later.