Want to Take Better Notes? Ditch the Laptop for a Pen

New research might have you reconsidering that old school pen and paper if you want to remember more of your notes.

By James Sudakow; Author, ‘Picking the Low-Hanging Fruit … and Other Stupid Stuff We Say in the Corporate World’@JamesSudakow

Technology plays a critical role in how we work. Cell phones, apps, laptops, and collaboration technology have all but replaced older ways of working.

Here’s an interesting situation that happened to me recently, though, that has me rethinking how quickly I completely abandon old methods. It also turns out there’s science behind it.

Binder on the highway

The other day, I led a long, full day meeting with an executive team. The meeting went great, the team made a lot of important decisions, and there were lots of next steps I had noted diligently in my notebook.laptop-2

Then after 12 hours of hard work, I got in the car to drive home only to forget that I had left my notebook on top of the car with the banana I was so excited to eat. I looked in my rear view mirror in a panic as the notebook flew off the car on a crowded major highway.

Feeling like I was in a bad TV commercial, I pulled over immediately and tried to remember the notes I had taken. To my surprise, I remembered almost everything.

To be honest, I don’t have a photographic memory, and these days my memory isn’t as good as it used to be now that I have multiple children under three wreaking havoc with my sleep schedule.

It turns out that my ability to remember all of that information might have simply been because I took the notes with a pen and paper instead of using my laptop. Sound crazy?

Recent research studies have found that my situation isn’t unique. Here’s the research and why it might change your thinking around some modern technology at work.

The research

The research was conducted with college students. Some were allowed to take notes during a lecture on a laptop and others had to go old school and write with a pen.

Surprisingly, the students who took notes with pen and paper remembered far more than their peers who had a laptop.

In addition, in a follow up scenario, both sets of students were allowed to go back to their notes and use them as cheat sheets when asked to talk about the key points from the lecture. In this case also, the students who wrote notes with pen and paper did better.

So what was happening?

First and most obviously, those with laptops were tempted to do other things on the computer which simply wasn’t an option for the pen and paper group. By default, the pen and paper crowd was listening more intently to the lecture.

In addition, there was a surprising correlation between how much the students wrote down and how much they remembered, and it was the reverse of what you might think.

The laptop group had much more detailed notes. They could keep up better simply because you can type faster than you can write. More words didn’t translate into better retention, though. They spent less time really thinking about the words and more time trying to type verbatim what they heard.

The pen and paper group, on the other hand, wrote down far less but had to think about what they were choosing to write. It turns out that act of thinking about what was being written was a key part of the way the information got absorbed better into their brains.

Business implications

You could make a case that our laptop might be causing us to remember less of our important discussions in meetings.

Here’s everything working against you:

No matter how disciplined you are, it is really hard to not check e-mail when you have it open on your laptop.

At the same time, many of us still try to “multi-task” during meetings while listening to whatever is being discussed. The science tells us that we literally can’t listen to one person while doing another form of communication at the same time on our laptop (kind of like trying to listen to a conference call while writing an e-mail).

Even if you are a great corporate citizen who commits none of those sins and is trying to diligently take good notes on your laptop, ironically you might be noting too much.

What’s the solution?

There isn’t a magic bullet here, but one executive leadership team I work with just implemented a “No laptops and cell phones” rule during meetings.

It may seem a bit Draconian, but it was amazing how fast the depth of conversation and retention went up from one meeting to the next. It’s not a bad case study.


The CAMICB Board of Commissioners approved a new continuing education policy for individuals seeking CMCA recertification.  The policy is as follows:

CMCA recertification requires the completion of 16 hours of continuing education within a two-year certification period.  Current CAMICB policy states credit hours may be earned only for education that meets either of the following criteria:

  • It pertains to community association operations or management
  • It contributes to the professional development of the CMCA

 Further continuing education credit specifications include:

  • Educational courses are offered by approved course providers.
  • One half of the continuing education credits may be obtained through in-house training courses.
  • Local law seminars and local college or university courses pertaining to accounting, business practices, computers, or foreign language will count toward the continuing education requirement
  • Courses related to buying and selling real estate are not acceptable.
  • Self-study credit must be pre-approved by CAMICB and is limited to no more than four hours every two years.
  • Teaching a course related to community association management can qualify for credit.
  • Publishing an article in a regional or national community association publication may qualify for credit.
  • One hour of credit equals one hour attended.
  • Credit for a course may only be submitted one time per recertification cycle.
  • Online learning must be interactive.  Interactive coursework is defined as requiring proof of participation.

The CAMICB Continuing Education Review Committee has reviewed and approved a list of coursework for CMCA recertification continuing education credit.  This list can be found on our website.

Coursework approved by a state regulatory agency for manager licensing requirements will be approved for CMCA recertification continuing education credit.  These states currently include: Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Nevada, Virginia.

In the News

Edmond Council allows chickens in city limits

By James Coburn | CNHI News Oklahoma

EDMOND, Okla. — Chickens and laying hens may be kept within Edmond city limits after a 5-0 vote Monday evening by the Edmond City Council. Mayor Charles Lamb said the city has heard extensive testimony about the use of urban chickens. 

“You know more than you ever thought you’d know about urban chickens,” said Lainee Copeland, a resident chickens-webof Colchester Terrace.

Lamb said lots in excess of 30,000 feet are acceptable by code. No roosters are allowed, and a suitable screening barrier must meet compliance standards. Individual homeowners associations may also address whether chickens are allowed.

A ratio of chickens was established with acreage not to exceed five acres. Keeping chickens and laying hens beyond five acres is already allowed within general agricultural zoning, the mayor explained.

Copeland asked for a description of the permit. There will be a one-time $25 permit fee, said Steve Murdock, city attorney. Animal Welfare will enforce the code, and copies of the code will also be available for the chicken owners. No slaughtering of the birds is permitted within the city limits.

“We haven’t prepared the actual form. It will be available within 30 days, or as near as we can, if the council chooses to move forward,” Murdock said.

Regarding the numbers of chickens or laying hens, Lamb said the permit reads as follows: “Excess of One (1) to two (2) acres – Maximum of twelve (12); Excess of Two (2) to Three (3) acres – Maximum of eighteen (18); Excess of Three (3) to Four acres – Maximum of twenty-four (24); Excess of Four (4) to Five (5) acres – Maximum of thirty (30).”

Councilwoman Elizabeth Waner said she understands both sides of the discussion.

“Even though I’m sure what we have is not going to make everybody happy, I appreciate the process that everyone participated in,” Waner said.

Does your community allow chickens?  Leave a comment below.

When Your Co-worker’s in a Bad Mood

The Exact Right Thing to Do When Your Co-worker’s in a Bad Mood

By Abby Wolfe at The Muse

A few years ago, I had a manager who could be just a tad formidable when she was in a bad mood. I’d spend the entire day walking on eggshells, abruptly turning the other way if I heard her voice, and checking her calendar to see what conference rooms I should avoid.

This probably wasn’t the best way to handle her unpleasant days, though. Not only did it not magically bless her with a sunny disposition, but it also hindered my productivity and made me feel jumpy the entire day. I was letting her mood govern my emotions and actions, and coworkerthat’s just not fair or effective.

Luckily, in the three years since then, I’ve starting figuring out just what you should (and shouldn’t) do when a co-worker shows up a little—or very—grumpy.

1. Don’t Ask if He’s OK

I’m not heartless, I promise. I tear up at most commercials and my partner has banned me from watching This Is Us because I turn into a human water fountain every episode.

When someone shows up acting more sullen or irritable than usual, I think it’s instinct for most of us to immediately ask, “What’s wrong with you?” or “Are you OK?” You’ve noticed something’s off, and as a caring human being and problem-solver, you want to fix it.

But think about when you’re in a crappy mood. You’re so caught up in your head, listing off the number of ways you hate the world, and having someone call that out (especially in front of others) doesn’t really make everything sunshine and roses, does it? Nope, I bet it just adds one more bolt of lightning to your already stormy day.

So, I recommend that you resist that urge. Because if you don’t, you could make him feel singled out and even more testy. If he wants to talk about whatever’s going on, he will.

 2. Don’t Take it Personally

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received is that when an individual is treating you badly–whether she’s yelling at you, insulting you, excluding you, or so forth—it’s rarely because something is actually wrong with you. Rather, there’s something going on inside of that individual that has nothing to do with you.

Sure, it sucks when Tracy bites your head off when all you did is ask where the stapler is. But if you spend the rest of the day letting those few moments eat at you, you’re wasting your time. You did nothing wrong. And, hey, even if you did, it doesn’t warrant her snapping at you.

Furthermore, don’t engage. Again, the reason for her lashing out at you has to do with her, not you, so you don’t need to get defensive about it. Take a deep breath, let her words and sharp tone roll off of you, and go search for the stapler on your own.

3. Back Off

Let’s face it—when someone’s in a bad mood, he isn’t all that fun to work with. Or be around at all. And when you’re in that type of negative headspace, what you really need is the time and space to work through it on your own or just let it take its course.

So, don’t try to force him into conversation. Don’t try to cheer him up. Save any questions and updates you can for the next day. If there’s something pressing, keep it brief and to the point. And if possible, send an email about it instead. It may be easier for him (and less painful for you) to let him process it on his own rather than having to interact with anyone.

Remember: There’s already a thunderstorm happening in his head. Try not to add more noise.

New Boss? Here’s a Tip

By Sara McCord at the Muse

new boss

Getting a new boss can be nerve-wracking. For better or worse, you’ve figured out how to work with current manager. You know how long it takes him or her to reply to an email, the best approach for pitching new ideas, and how he or she defines “Urgent!”

But there’s no denying that working for someone new is an opportunity. Even if you’re one of the lucky few who loves your boss, a new person will push you to grow. At the very least, building that rapport all over again is a valuable skill.

And if your felt like your old manager was holding you back? Then, this just might be the break you needed.

Of course, wanting things to get off on the right foot isn’t enough to make it so. The people who make the most of this opportunity do the following three things:

1. They Put Their Best Foot Forward

Typically, when you meet a new boss, it’s as an applicant or brand new hire, and you’re focused on being your most impressive self. And then, as time goes on, you get a bit more relaxed.

When you started, you read every email draft five times. Now, you shoot off one-line responses from your phone. You used to be on time every day, but now you don’t sweat the delay from a long line at Starbucks. That’s because once you established credibility with your old manager, you may’ve learned she really didn’t mind lax email etiquette or occasional tardiness.

And while it can be confusing because you know your job inside and out at this point, you need to remember that you’re back at square one in the impression game with your new boss. So, play by all the rules of professionalism to show you know what they are.

Avoid Taking it Too Far

One thing that distinguishes smart people is they know how to dial up the professionalism—without overcompensating. In other words, you don’t want to show up an hour early, in a suit, and write super formal emails for two weeks in a row; and then go back to your old ways.

That’ll make it seem like you think following the rules is a switch you turned on to make a good impression (and then switched off again the moment you got comfortable). Bouncing between extremes will only confuse your new boss.

So, step it up in a way that’s compatible with how you plan to work moving forward. Aim to be a couple of minutes early, skip the too-casual-looks, and proof your emails. Those are changes that’ll make you look good—and be possible to keep up for the long run.

2. They Pitch Fresh Ideas

When someone steps into a management role, they’re looking for ways to keep moving the team forward. So it’s an opportunity for you to share ideas you have for innovations or new ways you can contribute.

So, schedule a meeting and prep for it by brainstorming any areas for improvement. Is there anything you think could be streamlined (or worth experimenting with)? Do you have an idea to advance a team initiative?

If nothing jumps out at you, spend the meeting asking questions. Ask your boss about his priorities and what he’d like to build out. Take notes and then go back and think on what he said. From there, send a follow-up email with ways to meet those goals.

Avoid Taking it Too Far

When you’re talking about improvements, there’s a temptation to dwell on what’s not working. But smart people know that things talking down—whether it’s your former boss or how things were done previously—is never a good idea.

It can make you look petty, or like you have baggage. Even if you feel it’s an objective fact that your old system sucks or you weren’t able to work up to your full potential, avoid venting. Stay forward-focused and positive.

3. They Offer to Help

Your boss is new—to the company, to the department, or to being responsible for your team’s work. And you remember what it’s like to be the most recent addition to a group: You invariably have a lot of questions.

So, use that as a jumping off point to connect with your supervisor.

Offer to share institutional knowledge, or the secret to getting a finicky printer to work, or your past interactions with a key stakeholder. Make it clear that you’re happy to answer any question as your manager gets up to speed.

Avoid Taking it Too Far

Smart people know the difference between being helpful—and sucking up. Don’t start acting like the teacher’s pet or appoint yourself as the intermediary between your supervisor and your team.

This behavior nearly always backfires, because it looks like you want your manager to play favorites. It’ll make your colleagues resentful (and can annoy your boss, too).

So, don’t act like you’re the only person on the team who can provide any assistance. Encourage your co-workers to help as well, and talk up their abilities, too.

The final thing all smart people do in this situation is let go. Even if your systems stay mostly the same (and it’s par for the course for them to change), people are, by nature, different. Your new boss will communicate in his own way and set priorities as he sees fit.

To keep moving forward in your own career, be flexible and open to new opportunities. This is a chance for you to grow and get ahead, too.

Bill Gates’s 2-Step Evening Ritual

By Eric Mack, Columnist, Inc.com @EricCMack

The Microsoft founder and world’s richest person has a surprisingly simple nighttime routine.

You might think that the world’s richest man, who spends his days fighting malaria and traveling the world doing wealthy philanthropist stuff, wouldn’t have time to do many chores. But in fact, Bill Gates makes time to clean up after dinner.

“I do the dishes every night,” Gates said during a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” session.

Once the dishes are clean and his fingers look a little more like prunes, Gates turns his attention to a good book at bedtime.Zebra-Lossing-Strips2

The tech legend is a voracious reader and he even takes the time to blog and vlog about his favorite books.

It’s a simple nightly routine that many of us probably know well, and there’s scientific research that backs up its benefits.

While we might think of breaking dishes as a good way to de-stress, it’s certainly more expensive and adds one more task of picking up the pieces to your endless to-do list.

Instead, a study that came out of Florida State University in 2015 found that practicing mindfulness techniques while washing dishes can decrease stress.

A number of people and researchers have gone on to link the meditative state often reached doing mindless tasks like washing dishes with boosting creativity.

Reading before bed as Gates does has also been shown to reduce stress in scientific studies.

And of course all that reading is certainly part of Gates’ creative fuel and the way he shapes his understanding of the world that he strives to improve through the work of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

I think it’s a safe bet that he won’t be proposing a dishwashing machine for every home as his next global initiative anytime soon.


CMCA and Candidate Listservs

Your input is needed!your_input

CAMICB has maintained two listservs for both CMCAs and CMCA exam candidates for almost 10 years.  The listservs require you to subscribe and act as a discussion board.  Recently, we’ve noticed a decline in activity.  We want to know the best way to help you connect to your peers.  Let us know!  We’ve brainstormed some ideas:

·      Monthly “Ask a CAMICB Subject Matter Expert”

·      LinkedIn group for CMCA discussion

·      Live webinars with Q&A for your peers

·      Networking session for CMCAs at the CAI Annual Conference

We’re open to suggestions.  CAMICB wants to create a space for dialogue, communication and networking.  Tell us what you’d like in the comment section below.


Digital Badges

Have you heard of digital badges?  CAMICB is considering this for the CMCA credential.  We’d love to get your feedback in the comments section.  Below is an article from ASAE’s e-newsletter to give you a better idea about what a digital badge is.  Let us know your thoughts!

Digital badges and ribbons put a twist on a traditional form of member recognition to incentivize small acts of engagement. Associations and their members are sharing them across community and social networks, adding an element of competition that spurs involvement.

How do you get a professional society of accountants excited about member engagement? It’s simple—create a membership scoreboard and assign points to actions that merit a reward.

The North Carolina Association of Certified Public Accountants (NCACPA) is in the process of implementing a digital leaderboard in its online community that counts everything from membership tenure to volunteering and other forms of service. Those points add up to recognition.

For example, let’s say you’ve been an NCACPA member for a year and complete a four-hour volunteer task; you might be awarded five points. But a 10-year member who completes the same task might get 15 points. Eventually, NCACPA’s Connect platform will have a new leaderboard feature which ranks the most-engaged members.

“We assign points for simple actions, such as uploading a profile picture on your Connect profile or posting a thread for the first time on the online discussion board,” says Moira Gill, a communications strategist with NCACPA. “While it will help members start accruing for when we implement the leaderboard, it also helps increase community participation and keep the engagement momentum going.”

There are many examples of how gamification can boost member or customer engagement. NCACPA’s platform might be fun for certified public accountants with a competitive streak, but it’s also an effective way to track personal growth. Actions earn members digital ribbons that recognize volunteering, community service, speaking at a conference, and more.

A lot of associations are beginning to test the value of a digital badge or ribbon, says Denise Roosendaal, CAE, executive director of the Institute for Credentialing Excellence (ICE). While they’ve been used most often in credentialing or certification, membership teams are starting to see the benefits of rewarding smaller actions, like updating a member profile. Digital badges and ribbons also travel easily across online networks.

“Wherever a member’s digital presence is, a badge can be shared or posted,” Roosendaal says. “These badges hold the power of reward and recognition for the individual and awareness for the organization in a new digital environment.”

LinkedIn is a popular place for sharing digital badges, Roosendaal says, and they can be synched to membership databases, making it easier to verify a member’s status, credential, or certification.

Younger members seem to be particularly interested in adding badges to their digital footprint, she adds. It’s a big reason why her association recently expanded digital badging to students completing certification courses at ICE Academy. The certificate program badge is by far the most popular ICE badge, Roosendaal says.

A key piece of advice for starting out: Make your digital badging program achievable and shareable. Small engagements should add up to bigger badges or ribbons, which can then be displayed in what Gill calls “a personal trophy case.”

“We try to remind members that they can set and achieve a variety of goals,” Gill says. “It’s not just the big commitments, like serving on the board or a committee. We want to make it known that there are a lot of little ways to get involved.”

Article by Tim Ebner.  Mr. Ebner is a senior editor for Associations Now. He covers membership, leadership, and governance issues.