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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 September 18, 2019

            15 Best Organizing Tips For Office Organization and Getting More Done

            15 Best Organizing Tips For Office Organization and Getting More Done

            You may think that you don’t have time for office organization, but if you really knew how much time that disorganization cost you, you’d reconsider.

            Rearranging and moving piles occasionally doesn’t count. Neither does clearing off your desk, if you swipe the mess into a bin, or a desk drawer.

            A relatively neat and orderly office space clears the way for higher productivity and less wasted time.

            Organizing your office doesn’t have to take days, it can be done a little at a time. In fact, maintaining an organized office is much more effective if you treat it like an on-going project, instead of a massive assault.

            So, if you’re ready to get started, the following organizing tips will help you transform your office into an efficient workspace.

            1. Purge Your Office

            De-clutter, empty, shred, get rid of everything that you don’t need or want. Look around. What haven’t you used in a while?

            Take one area at a time. If it doesn’t work, send it out for repair or toss it. If you haven’t used it in months and can’t think of when you’ll actually need it, out it goes. This goes for furniture, equipment, supplies, etc.

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            Don’t forget about knick-knacks, plants (real or artificial), and decorations – if they’re covered with dust and make your office look shabby, they’re fair game.

            2. Gather and Redistribute

            Gather up every item that isn’t where it belongs and put it where it does.

            3. Establish Work “Zones”

            Decide what type of activity happens in each area of your office. You’ll probably have a main workspace (most likely your desk,) a reference area (filing cabinet, shelves, binders,) and a supply area (closet, shelves or drawers.)

            Place the appropriate equipment and supplies are located in the proper area as much as possible.

            4. Close Proximity

            Position the equipment and supplies that you use most within reach. Things that you rarely use can be stored or put away.

            5. Get a Good Labeler

            Choose a label maker that’s simple to use. Take the time to label shelves, bins, baskets drawers. Not only will it remind you where things go, but it will also help others who may have a need to find, use, or put away anything in your workspace.

            6. Revise Your Filing System

            As we move fully into the digital age, the need to store paper files has decreased.

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            What can your store digitally? Are you duplicating files? You may be able to eliminate some of the files and folders you’ve used in the past. If you’re storing files on your computer, make sure you are doing regular back-ups.

            Here’re some storage ideas for creating a smooth filing system:

            • Create a meeting folder – Put all “items to be discussed” in there along with items that need to be handed off, reports that need to be given, etc. It’ll help you be prepared for meetings and save you stress in the even that a meeting is moved up.
            • Create a WOR folder – So much of our messy papers are things that are on hold until someone else responds or acts. Corral them in a WOR (Waiting on Response) folder. Check it every few days for outstanding actions you may need to follow-up on.
            • Storage boxes – Use inexpensive storage boxes to keep archived files and get them out of your current file space.
            • Magazine boxes – Use magazine boxes or binders to store magazines and catalogs you really want to store. Please make sure you really need them for reference or research, otherwise recycle them, or give away.
            • Reading folder – Designate a file for print articles and documents you want to read that aren’t urgent.
            • Archive files – When a project is complete, put all of the materials together and file them away. Keep your “working folders” for projects in progress.
            • File weekly – Don’t let your filing pile up. Put your papers in a “To File” folder and file everything once a week.

            Learn more tips on organizing your files here: How to Organize Your Files for Better Productivity

            7. Clear off Your Desk

            Remove everything, clean it thoroughly and put back only those items that are essential for daily use.

            If you have difficulty declutter stuff, this Declutter Formula will help you throw away stuff without regretting later.

            8. Organize your Desktop

            Now that you’ve streamlined your desktop, it’s a good idea to organize it.

            Use desktop organizers or containers to organize the items on your desk. Use trays for papers, containers for smaller items.

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            Don’t forget your computer desktop! Make sure the files or images are all in organized folders. I’d recommend you clear your computer desktop everyday before you leave work.

            9. Organize Your Drawers

            Put items used together in the same drawer space, stamps with envelopes, sticky pads with notepads, etc.

            Use drawer organizers for little items – paper clips, tacks, etc. Use a separate drawer for personal items.

            10. Separate Inboxes

            If you work regularly with other people, create a folder, tray, or inbox for each.

            11. Clear Your Piles

            Hopefully with your new organized office, you won’t create piles of paper anymore, but you still have to sort through the old ones.

            Go through the pile (a little at a time if necessary) and put it in the appropriate place or dump it.

            12. Sort Mails

            Don’t just stick mail in a pile to be sorted or rifle through and take out the pieces you need right now. Sort it as soon as you get it – To act, To read, To file, To delegate or hand off. .

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            13. Assign Discard Dates

            You don’t need to keep every piece of paper indefinitely. Mark on files or documents when they can be tossed or shredded.

            Some legal or financial documents must be kept for specified length of time. Make sure you know what those requirements are.

            14. Filter Your Emails

            Some emails are important to read, others are just not that important.

            When you use the filter system to label different types of emails, you know their priority and which to reply first.

            Take a look at these tips to achieve inbox zero: The Ultimate Way to get to Inbox Zero

            15. Straighten Your Desk

            At the end of the day, do a quick straighten, so you have a clean start the next day.

            Bottom Line

            Use one tip or try them all. The amount of effort you put into creating and maintaining an efficient work area will pay off in a big way.

            Instead of spending time looking for things and shuffling piles, you’ll be able to spend your time…well…working and you’ll enjoy being clutter free!

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            Featured photo credit: Alesia Kazantceva via unsplash.com

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