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Would learning shorthand (e.g, handywrite, gregg, pitman) increase productivity?

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  • Would learning shorthand (e.g, handywrite, gregg, pitman) increase productivity?

    I came across David Allen's anecdote about calculating how much time over the course of a career/lifetime is wasted by not learning to touch-type. That got me thinking about low-tech improvements, specifically replacing my mixed longhand/printing with a shorthand method. Has anyone here experimented or have anecdotes to share about learning shorthand as a productivity improvement?

    Even though I have a computer related job, I still do a lot of low-tech writing in staff meetings (notes), low-tech collection/paper inbox, annotating printouts, and journal entries (work and personal) among other things. Assuming I write an hour a day on average, every business day for a 25-year career, that comes to an amazing 6,250 hours. Even a 50% improvement would result in ~1 year of added time (!). From what I've read about systems like handiwrite and Gregg, the improvement could be much more than that.

    Of course the tradeoff is that it takes quite a lot of practice to get proficient at shorthand, and that's time that could be spent doing more productive things. Shorthand would take longer to learn than typing...

  • #2
    Originally posted by maaku View Post
    Has anyone here experimented or have anecdotes to share about learning shorthand as a productivity improvement?
    I often need to take notes during brainstorming sessions with my husband wherer the ideas flow much faster than I can write legibly. I set up a project to improve my note taking speed. Among other things I tried I considered shorthand, QuickHand, and EasyScript. Got info on all 3, purchased books on both QuickHand and EasyScript and settled on learning EasyScript.

    It's made a big difference to me, was fast to learn and is mostly readable even by other folks unlike true shorthand. There is a thread on my trials in Connect under Tools and Gear called Shorthand Resources.


    • #3

      Here are some considerations about shorthand, etc.

      1) There are ways you can save time while taking notes longhand without learning a new writing "language." Attorneys/law students use short abbreviations for common terms, e.g. D=Defendant, P=Plaintiff, A=Appeal. You can develop a system for your own needs and save a lot of time.

      2) Mind maps can help save a lot of writing by using keywords and showing relationships.

      3) Shorthand DOES help people write faster, but comes with some distinct disadvantages. First, the learning curve. Second, few others know it, so sharing handwritten notes with others is impossible. Third, even after learning it, it is nearly impossible to skim, because each word is written phonetically.

      4) Do you carry a phone with a keyboard? With less practice than shorthand, you could learn to type faster than you write. On a Blackberry keyboard, many people can type 40-50 wpm using only their thumbs.

      5) Is there a way you can type? If you were able to carry a laptop to some of your meetings, you could type notes far faster than you could write by hand and then already have that information in your computer for when you need it.

      Hope these thoughts help.