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5 Note-taking Strategies That Will Boost Your Memory

5 Note-taking Strategies That Will Boost Your Memory

Memory is a funny thing—even if you’re actively listening to a conversation, you only remember 70 percent of it. If you’re multitasking or daydreaming, which many of us tend to do, that number drops dramatically. To counter this handicap of the human mind, successful people take notes. Here are some note-taking strategies to help boost your memory.

1. Use your tech.

    When AI declares war on humanity, I’m siding w/ the machines…

    Whether you have a laptop, tablet, or smartphone, it likely comes with a microphone. Both the Apple iOS and Google Play app stores have a variety of voice recording apps, and many are free. On the laptop, Audacity is one of the best free voice recorders on the market. In addition, you can find voice-to-text dictation software that can type your notes for you.

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    2. Typing is faster than writing.

      A day in the life of a data entry worker…

      If you’re in an environment where voice recording isn’t possible, you can always type your notes. People giving a presentation speak at 100 words per minute (during conversations, we average 150 wpm, which is the speed audiobooks are recorded at).

      The average person writes at around 22 words per minute, whereas the average professional typist hits speeds of 50–80 wpm. Even if you’re not comfortable with a keyboard, the average person types 33 wpm. This 50 percent increase makes a huge difference in how much information you can jot down, so use a computer whenever possible.

      3. Use shorthand and abbreviations.

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        Women had better handwriting than men…until texting was invented…

        If you must write, using shorthand is a great way to increase your note-taking speed. Shorthand competitions have recorded participants writing over 300 wpm, which is more than enough to keep up with a presentation. This method takes some getting used to, however, and you may not have time to invest in it.

        Regardless of whether you type or write, use abbreviations as much as possible. The Oxford English Dictionary has a comprehensive list of commonly used abbreviations, but if you’re only taking notes for yourself, you can use any abbreviations you want, so long as you understand what they mean.

        4. Focus on key points.

          Tennis…boring sports fans since 1873…

          When taking notes, focus on the important points to save yourself some work. In school, your teacher will often say “this may be on the test.” Teachers understand you can’t memorize their every word, so they give hints to help guide your learning. If they tell you to pay close attention to something or make a note of it, it’s a good idea to take heed.

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          In the business world, the training wheels are removed. You’re expected to understand the key takeaways, and missing them can have consequences. While working as a manager, it wasn’t uncommon for me to have to put people on disciplinary action for not paying attention to an important procedural change from a meeting. If you’re ever unsure whether or not you notated all the important points, don’t be afraid to ask someone.

          5. Highlight and use colors.

            Pretty much…

            I’m a huge fan of highlighters and markers, especially ones that smell. I hung out with a lot of graffiti artists growing up, and the smell of a Sharpie or Mr. Sketch marker brings back vivid memories of my childhood.

            When taking notes, highlight the parts you know you’ll need to reference later. This includes times, dates, numbers, and names. Whether taking a test, writing an essay, or working in a business, it’s the numbers and names that you’ll constantly search back through your notes for. Making them stick out with color will save you headaches down the road.

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            The act of note-taking in itself helps you memorize information by forcing you to activate more of your brain. Even if you don’t remember the exact information, you’ll at least remember writing it in your notes. After your class or meeting, refer back to your notes to help you utilize the information and apply it.

            Featured photo credit: unsplash via pixabay.com

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            Last Updated on November 19, 2019

            7 Signs That You’re Way Too Busy

            7 Signs That You’re Way Too Busy

            “Busy” used to be a fair description of the typical schedule. More and more, though, “busy” simply doesn’t cut it.

            “Busy” has been replaced with “too busy”, “far too busy”, or “absolutely buried.” It’s true that being productive often means being busy…but it’s only true up to a point.

            As you likely know from personal experience, you can become so busy that you reach a tipping point…a point where your life tips over and falls apart because you can no longer withstand the weight of your commitments.

            Once you’ve reached that point, it becomes fairly obvious that you’ve over-committed yourself.

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            The trick, though, is to recognize the signs of “too busy” before you reach that tipping point. A little self-assessment and some proactive schedule-thinning can prevent you from having that meltdown.

            To help you in that self-assessment, here are 7 signs that you’re way too busy:

            1. You Can’t Remember the Last Time You Took a Day Off

            Occasional periods of rest are not unproductive, they are essential to productivity. Extended periods of non-stop activity result in fatigue, and fatigue results in lower-quality output. As Sydney J. Harris once said,

            “The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.”

            2. Those Closest to You Have Stopped Asking for Your Time

            Why? They simply know that you have no time to give them. Your loved ones will be persistent for a long time, but once you reach the point where they’ve stopped asking, you’ve reached a dangerous level of busy.

            3. Activities like Eating Are Always Done in Tandem with Other Tasks

            If you constantly find yourself using meal times, car rides, etc. as times to catch up on emails, phone calls, or calendar readjustments, it’s time to lighten the load.

            It’s one thing to use your time efficiently. It’s a whole different ballgame, though, when you have so little time that you can’t even focus on feeding yourself.

            4. You’re Consistently More Tired When You Get up in the Morning Than You Are When You Go to Bed

            One of the surest signs of an overloaded schedule is morning fatigue. This is a good indication that you’ve not rested well during the night, which is a good sign that you’ve got way too much on your mind.

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            If you’ve got so much to do that you can’t even shut your mind down when you’re laying in bed, you’re too busy.

            5. The Most Exercise You Get Is Sprinting from One Commitment to the Next

            It’s proven that exercise promotes healthy lives. If you don’t care about that, that’s one thing. If you’d like to exercise, though, but you just don’t have time for it, you’re too busy.

            If the closest thing you get to exercise is running from your office to your car because you’re late for your ninth appointment of the day, it’s time to slow down.

            Try these 5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise.

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            6. You Dread Getting up in the Morning

            If your days are so crammed full that you literally dread even starting them, you’re too busy. A new day should hold at least a small level of refreshment and excitement. Scale back until you find that place again.

            7. “Survival Mode” Is Your Only Mode

            If you can’t remember what it feels like to be ahead of schedule, or at least “caught up”, you’re too busy.

            So, How To Get out of Busyness?

            Take a look at these articles to help you get unstuck:

            Featured photo credit: Khara Woods via unsplash.com

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