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How do you get ready for a meeting? Make a cup of coffee, put your mobile on silent, grab a pen and paper? No, grab your laptop? Want to take both? You’re not alone in wanting a solution that brings analogue and digital note taking together.

In a digital world it’s hard to believe that note taking, one fundamental part of business, still remains analogue. In most businesses across the UK, workers still turn to their trusty pen and paper to record meetings notes, creative ideas, phone calls and to do lists. This method has long been the most efficient and widely accepted way to record and share notes within the working environment. However, times are changing and business users are struggling to change with them.

So, is there a reason why we are so reluctant to part with our pen and paper? Many people claim that they prefer to hand write notes rather than type them and there seems to be compelling evidence that supports this.

Write by hand to process information

A 2014 report published in the journal of Physiological Science looked at student’s note taking methods and its effectiveness. In three separate studies, they found that students who took notes on laptops performed worse on conceptual questions than students who took notes longhand. The report shows that laptop note takers’ tendency to transcribe lectures verbatim rather than processing information and reframing it in their own words is detrimental to learning.

The benefits of laptops and pen and paper

Many of us can also scribe quicker than type, making it a more time efficient way to take notes. However for those who can’t type notes quickly it makes the method seem distracting and time consuming.

To some it’s a question of etiquette. For many, it’s off-putting to have someone in a meeting tapping away at their laptop. Or it can seem some aren’t paying attention and are focused on their screen. However, the laptop note-taker makes a compelling point as to why they prefer not to handwrite. It saves time having to type them up for records or sharing with other colleagues.

Typing notes also means you can save them onto a cloud and access remotely, so there is no need to take your notepad everywhere with you.

This leads us to a bit of a stand off with digital vs analogue note taking. It’s clear that hand written notes help us retain the information and can be quicker, but the digital method saves significant amounts of time on typing. That’s why technology companies are trying to create ways in which workers can bridge the gap between old and new.

Write notes, save digitally

An intelligent way to meet in the middle is the Bamboo Spark. It allows users to take handwritten notes and still save them digitally. This smart folio simply digitses notes and sketches so that users can save into the cloud. The latest app version of Bamboo Spark allows automatic handwriting to text conversion in one simple step that also saves notes digitally as they are written on paper. Converting handwritten notes to text gives users the ability to archive notes and sketches and share them over email or other office applications such as Evernote.

It will be interesting to see what other business solutions are created over the next few years that help bridge the gap between analogue and digital use as the merging of the two becomes more important in the professional world.

Ready to improve your note taking? Here are five tips from the experts at Wacom:

  1. Pay attention
Ok, it sounds obvious, but we all know how easy it is to drift off in meetings. It’s fine to do this on occasion but make sure you’re paying attention to the important bits including updates and actions. Be extra careful when using a laptop that you don’t get distracted by the internet or social media.
  1. Abbreviate, sketch and doodle
Make it as easy for yourself by using abbreviations or symbols to speed up your writing. Sketching is a great way to capture ideas or form timelines.
  1. Don’t write down every word
Never mind the hand cramp, you’ll also never capture it all and lose the pace of the meeting. Take down the general idea or point and then stop.
  1. Check your notes straight after
It’s always hard to remember exact details a week after the fact so it’s best to check soon after and type up or review as needed to get them saved and shared. With the Bamboo Spark you can convert handwritten notes to text and save straight to the cloud, tidy up your notes and then save and share as needed.
  1. Don’t try organise your notes in the meeting
Wait until afterwards when you can move them around and group things together when everything has been said, otherwise you’ll just create confusion and lose track of the conversation. Check out this video for more tips.

By Rick Peterson, Global Sr Director Marketing Strategy, of Wacom