Monthly Archives: October 2016

Sometings Should Take Notes By Hand Instead Of With A Laptop

If you walk into any lecture these days, you see a majority of students staring at their screens. You hear a never-ending chorus of pounding keys. Yes, we live in digital age and I bet you can’t imagine not using your laptop for studying. Yes, laptops enable you to do more academic work and do it more efficiently. You can collaborate more easily on presentations and papers, get instant access to numerous libraries and sources online and take a huge amount of notes as you probably belong to the majority that types faster than they write.

The truth is, those who type do take more notes compared to those who use good old pen and paper. However, according to the new study published by Pam Mueller and Daniel Oppenheimer (from Princeton University and University of California respectively) students who take notes on paper learn significantly more compared to their laptop-addicted peers. Here are the main reasons why:

Writing takes time and digestion is necessary
Our brain uses two different types of cognitive processing when doing these two operations: typing and writing. As tested on a group of undergrads, the research proved that laptop users type almost everything they hear without processing the meaning or devoting much thought to what it is they’re taking notes on. Basically, when you type, all you’re doing is mindlessly transcribing, and that does not require much cognitive activity.

When you take notes by hand, however, you obviously can’t write down every single word your professor utters. So you listen, summarize, and list only the key points. Your brain is more engaged in the process of comprehension and so the information processed this way is remembered better.

Longer notes does not equal better notes
You may object to the point above by saying that transcribing everything will help you later on when studying for the test. Nope! Wrong again. Students who participated in the study were assessed within a week, and longhand note takers significantly out-performed those who took notes on their laptop. Oppenheimer states that handwriting provides more effective memory cues by recreating:

context, as you remember the original process of writing, the emotion, and the conclusions made in your own words, and–
content, e.g. some individual facts written and summarized.
When comparing test scores, researchers noted that laptop users and longhand note takers performed similarly on factual questions with slightly better results from the typers. However, laptop users did significantly worse on conceptual questions.

Laptops are overwhelmingly distracting
Now this may sound like a no-brainier, but still, the facts are staggering. Students on average spend 40% of class time using all sorts of productivity killers, from instant chat messages to answering emails to simply browsing around the web. What may surprise you is that according to this research, undergrad and law students rated themselves less satisfied with their college education in general and were more likely to fail classes due to constant temptation to switch to unrelated tasks and the higher risks of academic dishonesty. Just think for a second, are you paying tens thousands of dollars per year to watch funny YouTube videos?

Have I convinced you? Great! Here are some tips for how to take notes by hand more effectively:

Master shorthand
There are numerous methods and shorthand systems for writing words and long letters faster by turning them into special symbols. One of the most popular ones is Teeline, commonly used for training journalists in the UK. You remove unnecessary letters (like silent letters or vowels, unless they come first or last) and twist them into simpler alphabet symbols that are faster to write.

If you find it hard to convert to shorthand entirely, try adopting a your own translation system for the most commonly used words in your writing – for example, “cld” for “could” or “w/” for “with.” Just make sure you don’t lose your cheat-sheet!

Use the right formatting
If you have just switched from laptop note taking to writing notes by hand, imagine the way you used to put down everything in Microsoft Word or any other writing app you’ve used. Make big titles, use bullet points and underline important phrases. Plus, leave enough white space between your notes so you can add extra information later on when studding for the test.

Get a stress ball
After a few hours of writing by hand your fingers, palm and wrist may be extremely exhausted. Get yourself a stress ball to squeeze once in a while to build up finger and hand strength. Also, do not forget to stretch out your writing hand to avoid elbow injuries and unpleasant muscle pains.

Try the Cornell Notes method
An old, yet still incredibly effective method, to take excellent study notes is the Cornell Notes method. Divide your page into two columns. The right one should be larger – that’s where you write down all the ideas, include tables, charts and pretty much everything else you do as you usually write notes. It can be messy. The left column is where you put big bulletin points and short statements, generalizing corresponding ideas from the right column.

Also, you can leave the end of each page blank and later write down a brief summary of the page in a couple sentences. Down the line, when studying for an exam or paper, it will help you find the necessary topics easily.

Lefties: get a felt-tipped pen
Ink stains, smudged letters and thus absolutely unreadable handwriting – sound familiar to you? Get a good felt-tipped pen that won’t smudge that bad when you drag your hand behind the pen while writing.

Take Notes All the Time Are More Likely To Be Successful

“Just let me look at my notes.”

How many times have we heard a person say that? It could be a manager, a student, a lawyer, a secretary, a writer, or anybody who has to remember key information. Note-taking is an essential skill in many areas of work and study.

But is note-taking really useful in helping us to understand, remember, and retrieve essential points when we most need them? The answer from research is a resounding yes, although individual styles and methods may vary enormously.

For example, recently when Mark Zuckerberg was addressing a meeting of young entrepreneurs, you could have heard a pin drop: everybody in the room was listening intently. But only TWO people, who happen to be legendary investors in Silicon Valley and arguably the most successful people in the room, were actually taking notes!

“Great leaders are never too proud to learn.” – John Donahoe, CEO, eBay
Just in case that doesn’t convince you of the importance of taking notes, here are 10 reasons note-takers are on the fast track to success:

1. They are actively learning.
The action of writing information down is a great way to get fully involved in the learning process. Note-takers are much more actively involved because they are processing the information and getting the essential facts down on paper, or on a tablet, or laptop. They are starting the process of understanding and making connections- although this will have to be consolidated later on.

2. They understand the importance of remembering the information.
Students need to remember all relevant information when confronted with an exam question. A speaker may not have their notes at hand but will still have a better chance of actually remembering the facts if they have taken the time to prepare notes. Research backs this up. Howe in 1970 found that students who had taken notes were 7 times more likely to remember facts a week later than those who had not.

3. They know how to organise their notes and data.
Students and managers face a real challenge when it comes to storing and retrieving all their notes, data, contact information, and customer feedback- just to mention a few sources of information. If a student has a good old fashioned filing system, that may work, but modern technology is now providing remarkable solutions for storing and retrieving a variety of information. Imagine being able to email a client with just two clicks. Here is an example of an excellent tool called Transpose, which does all this and much more. Successful students and managers know that time is of the essence when it comes to finding information easily and quickly, and having a system for effective note-taking helps them to achieve this goal.

4. They know how to prepare for note-taking.
Very often, the student or manager may have to listen to a difficult lecture or be placed in another situation where they worry that taking notes will be more demanding than usual. If it is a lecture, there will usually be a text that the professor will be referring to. Prereading is an essential element here as through doing this they can get a good gist of what the text is about. In doing so, they can look up unfamiliar terms and concepts, check data, dismiss irrelevant or less important information, and begin to understand the main points before the lecture begins.

“Prereading is a game changer. It changed my life…Everyone is smarter when they have seen the material before. You will be too.” – Peter Rogers
5. They devise their own efficient note-taking system.
Who says that getting down information in complete sentences is a great idea? Usually you will need to use shorthand or some other system. In addition, verbatim note-taking leaves out many essential elements in the learning and retention process. Visual mapping is a great way to get around this problem- especially if students happen to be visual learners. Students can devise spidergrams and mind maps which are effective. Naturally, it does depend a lot on the subject matter. Many people invent their own list of abbreviations and symbols of common terms which come up again and again. This is a great time saver.

6. They are clever at spotting cues.
Note-takers have a lot going on. They have to hone their listening skills and get their writing/typing up to speed and also fully concentrate. If their attention in any of these areas fails, then their notes will often feature gaps. I remember my own efforts at college when I sometimes missed the essential point. Efficient note-takers will develop a sixth sense for spotting verbal and non-verbal cues which will be a great help. Here are some examples:

The speaker will often pause and sometimes repeat a point, sometimes speak more softly and maybe change tone or inflection. There are also some non-verbal cues where the speaker will have slides, write on the board, or make a dramatic gesture. Note-takers recognize these and use them to gain time and save mental energy.

7. They do not rely on getting the teacher’s notes.
Lots of students love asking the lecturer for a copy of their notes and with PowerPoint and other software, this can be easily done. But the results for the students are mediocre, to say the least. These students are not going to be high flyers if they do this all the time. The key to successful learning is engaging with the materials, processing the information, and then restructuring it later to boost comprehension and retention of the content. Note-taking is the most effective way of doing this.

8. They become more efficient readers.
Many students take notes while reading texts and managers may have to plow through tedious manuals. Note-taking is an excellent way of maintaining focus and helping you summarize the key points. They ask themselves, “what were the main points?” and if they have problems remembering, they can always have a quick look at their notes. They invariably become better and faster readers. Their distraction level while reading is also reduced because they have to pay attention to recognize any notes they may wish to make.

9. They are always ready to write down ideas.
Richard Branson has observed that if he had never taken notes during meetings and networking, then many of Virgin’s companies and projects would never have even been born. He makes a great justification for taking notes and ruefully comments that women are much better at note-taking than men.

“No matter how big, small, simple or complex an idea is, get it in writing. But don’t just take notes for the sake of taking notes, go through your ideas and turn them into actionable and measurable goals. If you don’t write your ideas down, they could leave your head before you even leave the room.” – Richard Branson
10. They know that taking notes helps them achieve their goals.
This is no accident or coincidence. There are quite a few studies which now show that the actual process of taking notes, longhand or type-written, helps people to boost their learning and also achieve their goals. Researchers at the Dominican University of California have discovered that writing down goals and sharing them is crucial in helping people to achieve their aims. The researchers estimated that a person’s chances of success were increased by 33% when they actually completed this process. There is also a fascinating book called Write it Down, Make It Happen by Henriette Anne Klauser which explains why and how writing down goals is so important for achieving success.

Now the next time you attend an event, conference, networking chat or meeting, notice how many people are taking notes. They are the ones who have been or will be the most successful in life. Will you be one of them?

Know More The Reasons C Students Will Be The Most Successful

There is a common opinion that if you study hard and graduate with an “A diploma,” it will guarantee you will find a great job that pays well. Unfortunately, the reality is different. Although, most positions require you to have a diploma, no one will look through your grades. When you graduate, the only thing that matters is your knowledge and the ability to operate within the system.

So why is it that students that you could barely get their “C” at the end of a semester manage to become super successful? Let’s look through 7 reasons why “C” students will be the most successful people in the world.

1. They understand what they want earlier than others
“C” students don’t spend much time on the unnecessary classes we all have to.

If you are trying to become a technician, you obviously don’t need to write a hundred of annoying essays about culture and your summer experience.

They stop taking the required classes and focus on vocation-related subjects that can help them during their work. World famous innovator and entrepreneur Steve Jobs never finished college and made it to the top of IT industry only because he was focused on doing what he liked. During his famous speech to Stanford graduates he emphasized that “The only way to succeed, is to love what you do. Keep looking, don’t settle”.

2. They get first-hand experience.
Most “C” students start working earlier than their peers, which lowers their marks as they have to skip classes to make a living. At the same time, they get priceless experience every “A+” graduate is missing. And we all know that you are less likely to be hired without actual experience.

3. They build networks.
While “A” students are stuck learning unnecessary subjects, C students read tons of useful literature and communicate with dozens people every day. In real life, knowing powerful people as well as the ability to communicate can make a difference in your career.

4. They know how to enjoy life.
When in college, they visit parties and come to the lessons a little bit hangover, nevertheless, they enjoy their life. Same happens when they start working. Plain and simple: happy people are more successful than those who are not. It happens because they are fun to be around, proactive team players who will cheer up the entire team, which is one of the best skills your boss can look for. Stressful, negative people, no matter how intelligent they are won’t be in the top list of candidates.

5. They find the simplest solutions.
Billionaire computer specialist Bill Gates is one of the many successful people who cannot show off with their college marks. Nevertheless, he managed to get to the top by building Microsoft, one of the giant IT corporations. Bill Gates is very open-minded and unlike others, he never looks at grades or even diploma. Moreover, he thinks it is important to think outside-the-box. One of his famous quotes: “I will always choose a lazy person to do a hard job. Because he will find an easy way to do it”.

6. They follow their dreams.
Much of success comes from loving what you do. When you enter college you are very young and might not understand what you actually need.

That’s why it is important to understand that you are not obliged to follow the choice you made when you were 18 or worse, if your parents made it for you. Look at the youngest female billionaire Elizabeth Holmes, who is revolutionizing medicine. She dropped out of Stanford, one of the most prestigious colleges to follow her dreams. Another great example is all-known fun-lover Richard Branson, he dropped our school at the age of 15, now he is managing a giant air company “Virgin.”

7. They understand what it is to struggle.
Success requires emotional intelligence, perseverance, passion and, most importantly, the ability to overcome failure. In business as well as in life, you will go through ups and downs no matter what grades you had in college. “C” students become more successful because they know what it means to struggle, starting with passing an exam and ending with finding money to start their own business.

At the end of the day, grades are just numbers. True achievement is to become someone in a real world. And, if you graduated from college with lower grades, don’t despair. Real life and real lessons occur when you leave the classroom.