Take notes on paper instead of laptops

But iPads are okay, right? Right?

This final test clarified that the simple act of verbatim note taking encouraged by laptops could ultimately result in impaired learning. “Although more notes are beneficial, at least to a point, if the notes are taken indiscriminately or by mindlessly transcribing content, as is more likely the case on a laptop than when notes are taken longhand, the benefit disappears,” said Mueller and Oppenheimer.

What You Miss When You Take Notes on Your Laptop – Maggy McGloin, Harvard Business Review (31 July 2015)

Read the full piece for exactly what was tested and the – to me – rather distressing reasons for the conclusions.

Ewww. That person on your conference call is probably also on the loo

At the same time. I suppose you should count yourself lucky if he or she has at least muted the call first.

I don’t run any conference calls, I don’t think, but I take part in enough of them and I have been caught doing something I shouldn’t. Not that. It’s not like that. I have had a habit of writing something while on the call and, believe it or not, the vibration of my typing has somehow got through to the others. Busted, I believe is the phrase.

But I haven’t gone to the loo during one. I haven’t muted any. (I was once on the loo when Tony Robinson phoned me back about a Radio Times article but I shuffled to my office so fast that nobody ever found out.)

Apparently, though, I’m less than common in all this:

More than 60 percent of Intercall’s respondents admitted to doing other work or sending an email while on a conference call. More than half the people on the line are eating (hopefully on mute). Just under half are in the bathroom (hopefully on mute!). One in five are shopping. One in 11 are exercising. Six percent are taking another call. Suddenly I don’t feel so bad about looking up Clayton Kershaw’s ERA+.

The academic literature doesn’t say that meetings are intrinsically pointless. After all, that conclusion wouldn’t make any sense. There are some questions that require input from entire teams, or from individuals from multiple divisions, and it would be absurd to call for dozens of one-on-one meetings rather than call a single get-together.

Study: Nobody is Paying Attention on Your Conference Call – Derek Thompson, The Atlantic (21 August 2014)

New York Times on the need to take a break

I slept in this morning. It’s my first Monday back working and I slept in. Woke at 8am, it’s now slipping a wee bit past 9am and if you can really call nattering to you work, then this is the first work I’ve done. I am hours behind and I feel great.

I’m going to have to think about this. But as if to aid me thinking about it, I just read this:

Every day we’re assaulted with facts, pseudofacts, news feeds and jibber-jabber, coming from all directions. According to a 2011 study, on a typical day, we take in the equivalent of about 174 newspapers’ worth of information, five times as much as we did in 1986. As the world’s 21,274 television stations produce some 85,000 hours of original programming every day (by 2003 figures), we watch an average of five hours of television per day. For every hour of YouTube video you watch, there are 5,999 hours of new video just posted!

Hit the Reset Button in Your Brain – Daniel J Levitn, New York Times (9 August 2014)

I know what you’re thinking: who’s the slacker who didn’t make it 6,000 hours?

But Levitin’s point is that we need to step away from all this once in a while. And apparently, for a great number of people in the US, that once in a while is right now:

This month, many Americans will take time off from work to go on vacation, catch up on household projects and simply be with family and friends. And many of us will feel guilty for doing so. We will worry about all of the emails piling up at work, and in many cases continue to compulsively check email during our precious time off.

But beware the false break. Make sure you have a real one. The summer vacation is more than a quaint tradition. Along with family time, mealtime and weekends, it is an important way that we can make the most of our beautiful brains.

Is your brain beautiful? Or is this like football, which I think is called the beautiful game for absolutely no reason whatsoever?

Levitin’s full piece is an opinion article in the New York Times but it’s opinion backed up by some academic research that he and his colleagues have done. Read the lot for a bit more waffle but also a great deal more concrete bits about handling how our attention is so assaulted.