Society today seems to encourage a fast-paced lifestyle where technology and notifications control nearly every aspect of our lives. Some people claim to be good at “multitasking” or, merely changing tasks frequently, but are never able to focus or put forth the needed effort into one task. Stop for a moment and put away your devices to have some real human interaction.
Take a minute and read what can be gained by using a journal instead of your laptop at meetings.
Give full attention to the speaker
One benefit of taking a journal rather than a laptop to a meeting is the ability to provide the speaker with your attention and improve your ability to focus. The importance of keeping eye contact should also not be underestimated. Being able to give a presenter your undivided attention can go a long way especially if it’s a good first impression you hope to make.
Writing leads to critical thinking and better communication
Regular writing leads to the ability to better organize and flesh out thoughts in your mind. There’s less chance for thoughts to be jumbled when you’ve put them on paper. Writing is a process that allows you to think differently and requires observation, reflection, and analysis. Critical thinking is the practice of skillfully conceptualizing and applying gathered information.
By improving your writing you are improving your thinking and problem-solving skills. Pulitzer Prize winner David McCullough said, “Writing is thinking. To write is to think clearly. That’s why it’s so hard.”
Less distraction from technology
Using a laptop in meetings can be helpful when presenting and displaying information to a large group, yet it can also lead to being easily distracted. When not in front of a group, a laptop can be easily used for research and activities that aren't work-related. With a laptop or tablet in front of us, we can lose focus and become more easily distracted by open messages and apps. Close your laptop, or better yet, leave it at your desk and get in the habit of using a journal to record your meeting notes.
Work on your penmanship
Is longhand dead? Most of us are likely to spend more time on a computer than using our handwriting while at work. Taking a journal to meetings allows for practice and refining of your penmanship that has probably gotten a bit rusty. Gone are the school days where a person’s handwritten signature was used for important documents and electronic pre-filled signatures have now become commonplace. There’s no better place than in a work meeting to practice your penmanship while taking copious notes. Stop apologizing for your “chicken scratch” and practice improving your writing.
Harness your creativity
By using a journal you are able to free your mind and not limit yourself to the margins of a word processing document. We’ve all found ourselves sitting at the conference room table and while waiting for others to join and started to doodle. Distractions are inevitable and some people have notebooks that are filled more with random sketches than with pertinent meeting notes. Inspiration comes when you least expect it so jot those ideas on paper where they are less likely to be forgotten. If your mind is going to wander keep that abstract artwork on paper and in the margins. It can be fun to revisit previous notes and see what you were thinking about at the time.
Better customize and prioritize your notes
By using a journal you can easily color code and mark your meeting notes. Try using different colored markers and pencils to organize notes in a way that best works for you. Keep yourself organized by making yourself a key in the front of your notebook that you (or someone else) can easily refer to. Have fun with your journal! Give it character and make it yours.
Writing has mental and emotional benefits
One form of writing is expressive writing which has great therapeutic value. When you express your thoughts and regularly record goals, you improve your mood and reduce stress levels. People are happier and healthier when they record thoughts in a journal. Expressive writing doesn’t necessarily mean “spilling your guts” in an essay-filled diary, but can simply be writing down department and team goals and the part you play in achieving them.
Improving writing improves teaching
We retain information better as we teach it and handwriting your notes can help you explain topics covered in meetings to others. For those that may have been absent, you can use your journal to share what you learned and better fill them in on what was discussed. Writing in a journal brings you closer to a subject and keeps it fresh in your mind. Teaching a topic can help you implement better learning habits and can be helped by recording notes you’ve made in your journal.
As always, leave your mark!