The Importance and Strategies of Effective Note-Taking

9 Jan, 2023 | Read in 5 minutes

Learn the benefits and strategies of effective note-taking to improve your productivity, study skills, and memory retention.


Many companies consider note-taking too elementary to be included in a training program. They assume all employees have studied and can keep good records. Unfortunately, this is often not the case.

Two studies say that taking notes is good and bad for memory. According to PSYBLOG, note-taking can reduce what you remember. But Forbes showed that handwritten notes enhance the brain's encoding and retain information longer.

Note-taking doesn't end when school ends. As a professional, you need to record results meetings and make a summary. Notes can clarify confusing ideas. In addition, taking notes can improve listening skills, efficiency, and productivity.

Successful people in the world, like Bill Gates and George Lucas, are note-takers. They benefited a lot from this activity. According to Caption.Ed, taking notes during meetings, seminars or lectures results in a higher level of cognitive function.

Note-taking has many methods based on conditions and situations. So let's talk about the benefits and the most suitable note-taking method.

What is Note-Taking?

Note-taking is the practice of recording information taken from other sources. This definition means not only writing but also typing the information. Notes take many forms, depending on who you ask. 

Schoolchildren's note forms may be full of colourful highlights, but workers are scribbles on agendas. Remote workers may like digital notes rather than handwriting.

The Atlantic compared students who took notes with their hands and laptops, and the results showed that the laptop approach fared worse in terms of memory retention. But both have advantages and disadvantages.

Benefits of Note-Taking

How many hours per week do you spend in meetings? Do you always remember the outcomes? Or do you remember the ideas that you pop into your head?

In 1885, Hermann Ebbinghaus coined the term Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve. He found that 40% of people forgot what they heard within days of hearing it. There are several factors, such as the environment and memory's importance. 

The best way to combat this is to review the first 24 hours of information and take notes.

1. Help catch every point

Every word in a presentation or discussion is essential, but copying everything is hard. The average person's writing speed is 0.4 words per second. 

So employees can follow the speed of speaking during meetings by 2 to 3 words per second. Sometimes employees feel tripped when trying to follow, so it is better to record points consisting of 1 to 2 sentences.

2. Keep you alert

Note-taking can focus on matters in discussions, presentations, and meetings. The summary you create will help you remember the information sometime after the event has passed.

3. Learning aids

In companies, taking notes helps employees find their style. This method is called Generation Effect. So write those ideas down so you'll remember them. In practice, you can create notes with synonyms or your preferences. This will improve your memory of the concept.

4. Develop creativity and productivity

Write the meeting outcomes summaries that stimulate your cognitive function. Then the brain will connect the dots. Eventually, you will find a new pattern. It's called Luhmann's Zettelkasten. This method captures the key points, collects them and connects them to create new ideas.

5. Reflection

Reflecting on what we have heard will help increase memory retention. And the best way to reflect on it is to refer back to the notes made. A study by Ozbay in 2005 found that note-taking is a specific process requiring cognitive activeness. Start from listening, followed by understanding, then analysis and selection.

Note-Taking strategies

There are strategies you can adopt. Remember that these strategies depend on your personality. What might work well for you might not work for someone else.

1. The bullet-point method

As the name implies, this method uses bullet points to write introductory sentences. Add the place, who to meet, and the date. 

The bullet-point method is suitable if you're unsure of what to do in a meeting. Unfortunately, it may be tempting to write down everything at the meeting.

2. The Cornell Method

The Cornell method is beneficial not only in school or university but also at the professional level. This method uses the left side of the page for essential points and the right side for explanations. 

Cornell will make it easier for you to find important information amidst a pile of words. But you need a lot of concentration to make this method.

3. Mind mapping

The mind mapping method is suitable for you if you are visual-driven. This method is also ideal for creative brainstorming sessions. 

Start by writing the main idea in the middle of the page, then draw branches from that main idea. Mind maps are great for tracking brainstorming sessions, but creating them takes time.

4. The template method

Some companies often use templates for writing notes. Its function is to be organised and neat. You can make the template yourself, or most companies already provide it.

When to take notes

Different situations require different types of record-keeping. At the professional level, employees typically take notes during team meetings, in-person meetings, and brainstorming. Here are some essential things that must consider in taking notes in the professional sphere:

1. During a team/large meeting

The purpose of the meeting is for all participants to understand the results of the meeting. So to achieve that goal, make sure you focus on these points:

  • Fact
  • Problem
  • Decision
  • Action plan
  • Questions and answers

2. In-person meeting

One-on-one meetings usually feel informal. This can happen in cafes, coworking spaces, libraries or gardens. Generally, the purpose of this meeting is to measure employee performance. 

Taking notes on this situation is a balance. You must record information without building walls between yourself, the manager, or anyone else. Use a small, inconspicuous notebook for writing notes.

3. Brainstorming session

Brainstorming is a busy activity. Ideas flew on the whiteboard, in the air and chimed in, and you need speed. You have to capture the concept, combine and develop it.

Usually, employees make notes like messy scribbles during brainstorming sessions. You can also use the mind mapping method to take notes when brainstorming.


Note-taking is the activity of recording information from an event. When you take notes during meetings and brainstorming, your cognitive function improves. Remember, you can take notes in written or digital form.

If you like notes in digital format, then choose tools that support the note-taking process. By finding the appropriate methods and techniques, you will experience the benefits of taking notes every time.

You might also try a project management tool using VirtualSpace for taking notes. 

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