Learning to take good notes transformed my life. Not only did it make me a far better college student than a high school student, but it also helped improve my ability to focus in general. Writing down thoughts, reflections, and notes based on what I heard and read — often while I’m hearing and reading them — helps me to both remember information, ideas, etc. and to process them.
In addition, taking notes and writing out my thoughts by hand (often in a bullet list or in stream-of-consciousness writing) is now the primary way I do my heavy thinking. Turns out, there’s science behind why this is helpful.
“The value of reading, and of writing things down that we read, or hear, cannot be overstated. Two expert guests (who specialize in speech and memory) on the Huberman Lab podcast explained that when we read text or listen to something and then write key aspects/takeaways down by hand – not typing, it engages our motor control centers in ways that deeply embed that information to our memory. Taking notes, however cursory, turns out to be the best way to remember and implement information better.” (Andrew D. Huberman, PhD, 3/20/23 tweet)
Taking notes helps us remember things, which means we’re far more likely to apply them. This is what makes this practice so transformational.
Transform Your Faith
Consider how taking notes can also be transformational in a person’s faith life, too. It was exactly that for me. As I applied what I’d learned in my undergrad studies about taking notes to the ways I took in biblical truth, I immediately experienced a deeper, more active faith. I also discovered a confidence in what the Bible says – in God’s promises – when I regularly:
- Took notes while listening to Sunday sermons.
- Wrote in the margins of my Bible.
- Adopted a habit of journal praying.
In a very immediate way, these activities transformed my faith life. I encourage you to consider how they can do to the same for you, too. In fact, I believe taking notes in these ways can begin moving anyone from going through the motions of church, Bible study, and prayer (i.e., being a hearer) to actively applying what they learn to their life (i.e., being a doer).
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.” (James 1:22-25)