Why A Short Pencil Is Better Than A Long Memory

August 1, 2018

The article contains helpful notetaking points for Sunday School and Worship Service

Organizations and individuals spend heavily on training. The payout or return on investment—in money or time—is not as apparent.

Numerous studies provide information on the retention levels of people who attend meetings, seminars, training sessions, and the like. While there is disagreement on how much knowledge is retained and put to work, it is evident that after a period, four to five days, the average person has forgotten a significant amount of the information.

Information presented in these training programs often contain the ideas and strategies that lead to achievement. People who attend these meetings do not realize the power of the pen and note-taking. I find that if I don’t take notes, I am not as attentive and focused as I should be.

I find that I can increase my retention level significantly through the use of a pen or pencil. Note taking is a sure way to improve retention levels. As someone has said, “A short pencil is better than a long memory.”

A person who takes notes is forced to listen more attentively to what is being said or discussed.  Note taking produces something that can be seen and read at a later time. And, in the process of taking notes, the writer is participating in the learning process.

The benefits of note taking.

  1. Putting notes down on paper (or computer) gets them out of your head and into concrete form. Ideas are fleeting things. Write them down and later when you review them, they may lead to even more ideas.
  2. You collect the information in real time and can process it later. It is easier to reread than to remember.
  3. Taking notes forces you to read and listen carefully.
  4. When you are reviewing, notes help recall the important things.
  5. Reducing ideas and facts to short notes increases understanding and retention.

A good rule is to write thoughts down when you hear them or when an idea comes to you. Do not depend on your memory. Write down pertinent information, but don’t overwrite. Use short sentences, fragments of sentences, phrases, and keywords. Focus on salient points.

While a person can help overcome the passive role of an attendee at a seminar or Bible Study by taking notes, the real power of retention is aided by acting upon the notes: one idea or one piece of information can change your life. Write it down!


“Do a good deed, and two people benefit, you and the recipient. Perhaps the benefactor tells someone else, and they tell another who then shares with someone else. But, you don’t tell anyone, you’ve received your blessing.”

“It makes a difference in the quality of bonding and relationship when we accept that there is two set of bias when two people meet. Know that not everyone sees the world as you do.”

“Everyone you meet today needs to feel important. Do your part to help make them feel significant. Your encouragement will change the individual’s life, your life, and maybe even the world.”