Even if you carry a tablet computer or laptop with you to every meeting, there’s nothing that can fully take the place of old-fashioned notes written by hand. We tend to remember details more accurately by writing them down rather than typing—perhaps the age-old process of mind-to-hand-to-paper has been embedded in our DNA. Perhaps the act of writing requires us to be more mindful and in the moment as we put pen to paper.
Elevate everyday note-taking by adhering to the following guidelines and tips, and you may find that note-taking by hand increases your productivity:
A pen for every purpose
All pens are not created equal, and many use different modes for different purposes. The ballpoint is the workhorse, useful for extensive note-taking, with its long-lasting ink that dries quickly on the page. A rollerball has a liquid write that makes it ideal for correspondence; it takes longer to dry than a ballpoint but is more low-maintenance than a fountain pen. The fountain pen is ideal as a signature pen or for journaling and calligraphy, with its expressive nib and free-flowing ink. Bottled inks come in a panoply of vivid colors to inspire you and enhance creativity. A fountain pen requires some care and maintenance; however, avid fountain pen users don’t seem to mind. In fact, they enjoy the ritual.
Paper that helps you think
The tactile pleasure of smooth, substantial paper can make a difference in how your thoughts and ideas flow. Choose paper that allows your pen or pencil to glide smoothly over it, and you may find yourself writing for longer periods, articulating your points with more eloquence, and even improving your penmanship. And thicker paper is more easily archivable than flimsier stock, so you can save your notes for posterity.
Use an annotation margin
Choose a paper format that includes an annotation margin, excellent for calling out key points or action items. Drawn from the Cornell method of note-taking, the annotation margin enhances your ability to quickly refresh your memory at a glance when referring to your notes.
Even if you’re not an inveterate note-taker, you can still benefit from writing by hand a little bit each day. You may still choose to type and print out most of your correspondence, but sign your name with fountain pen ink—and even add a handwritten postscript. It adds a special, personal touch—and just feels good.