Current listening- The Gaslight Anthem, Handwritten (appropriate)
Recently I've taken to handwriting notes on the literature I'm reading, as well as making them on MS Word. This decision initially came about because this was because I decided to study on campus for a few hours ahead of going to my evening job and left my laptop at home, figuring 'It'll be ok, somewhere is a free computer with my name on it, and I cannot be bothered lugging this thing around as my back hurts'. This devil-may-care attitude was my undoing, as no computers were available! Instead I grabbed some scrap paper, stole a pen from some unsuspecting soul and settled in for the afternoon. Despite horrible associations with undergraduate exams and my old job which involved writing pages and pages by hand, I have massively come around to this way of working, and let me tell you why.
1) It forces me to be more concise. When writing in Word, I often end up being lazy and just copying big chunks of text into my notes to reread properly at some imagined point in the future- this is even worse when working from a PDF, where the temptation is to copy and paste a whole paragraph without reading it properly! Writing by hand means conciseness is a necessity, in order to avoid hand cramp apart from anything, meaning there is less waffle and more actual substance when I come to review them. In particular, I have had to examine my assumption that the success of a day of reading corresponds with the volume of notes made, which I should already know from my Masters is not true.
2) Building revision into the process of note taking. There are two stages to my process of handwriting notes- writing the notes for the first time, and then transcribing them into type once the book/article/video is finished. The benefit of this is that I'm revising my notes soon after taking them, so they have a better chance of 'going in', and this gives me the opportunity to make additions and connections I might have missed. It also never takes as long as I think it will, due to the aforementioned conciseness.
3) Achieving focus and flow. Despite making use of the excellent Pomodoro Technique, I always, always seem to get distracted when at my laptop, and if my focus has been broken once it becomes much easier to break time and time again! My mind will wander to finding out when the new season of Parks and Rec is airing, or how old Jamie Oliver is, or double checking the ingredients list in that recipe I'm making at the weekend to see if any of it's in the cupboard... It goes on and on, and I often get really frustrated with myself. Handwriting notes gives me time away from the screen to get rid of all that noise and rest my eyes, and, most importantly, makes getting into a pleasantly exhausting state of flow way easier. The days where I've got my flow on are the days when I feel I've really achieved something, and doing this for even four hours is so much more productive than squinting at my laptop screen for eight with half my mind on work and the other half on Twitter.
There are more reasons that are specific to me and my research, for example as I'm often looking at media content it's way easier to be taking notes on a notepad in front of me than pausing a video and switching back and forth between windows, and the ability to scribble diagrams and addendums on paper in the middle of otherwise pure text suits my way of thinking. But this is just me- try it for yourself and see whether it works for you!