The Art of Taking Notes
Good News Magazine
August 1980
Volume: VOL. XXVII, NO. 7
Issue: ISSN 0432-0816
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The Art of Taking Notes
Norman L Shoaf  

   Jesus Christ's true ministers feed His Church meat in due season! And during this Fall Festival season God's people will be able to enjoy eight days' worth of spiritual meat served up by Christ's ministers at Festival services. Every Feastgoer should try to derive every possible benefit from the sermons, split sermons, sermonettes and announcements about God's Work.
   But listening is not enough. We must put the Feast messages into practice, and to do that we have to remember what we have heard. When we return to our homes around the world, we've been inspired, corrected and instructed. But soon everyday problems and pressures beset us. We can easily forget the instruction we brought home — instruction that, if acted upon, would bring us closer to the perfection of Jesus Christ. In fact, our retention level of anything we hear drops sharply after only 24 hours, unless we do something about it. That is where notetaking comes in.

Advantages of notetaking

   Taking notes during services offers several advantages. Foremost, of course, notes enable a listener to recall what was said even years after he heard it. The human memory cannot cope with a mass of information for even a short span. Bu t "the palest ink is better than the most retentive memory," as an old Chinese proverb says.
   Notetaking also improves a listener's attentiveness to the spoken word. If you are closely following a speaker for the purpose of making a written record of what he says, you are less likely to sidetrack your thinking.
   Taking notes increases the chances that you will review what you have heard, for review is the key to learning what you are taught and making it part of your character.
   Notes also help a listener organize what he hears, and organization is another aid to remembering.

Considerations in taking notes

   Here, then, are several points to consider in taking notes. If you incorporate this advice, your notetaking will benefit and you will retain the impact of the messages you hear at this year's Feast of Tabernacles.
    Keeping all your notes in one notebook or folder will help prevent losing them and will give you a neat package to review throughout the year. The section following this article is specially designed for notetaking at this Feast of Tabernacles. When you use this section you will have a valuable collection of articles and features on the Feast as well as your 1980 Festival notes in one place. You will want to study this issue of The Good News again and again.
    Be sure to properly label what you are taking notes on, so you can quickly identify it later. You may want to include the date and location of the service, the speaker's name, whether the presentation was a sermon, sermonette or announcement and perhaps the sermon's or sermonette's title, if one is given. In any case, it is beneficial to write down the subject or general idea of the sermon for later reference. Some brethren even make an index of all their sermon notes according to subject, so they can easily find the material.
    Keep your notes clear. Make sure you get any points or particular organization in the sermon. Note complete thoughts, because single words written just to "jog your memory" lose their value as time passes. Watch your penmanship.
    Keep notes brief. While you are writing, your effectiveness as a listener is diminished. Don't try to write every word in the sermon and thus lose the message's impact. The main inspiration God's people receive at the Festival should be by listening to the sermons and sermonettes.
    Use abbreviations and symbols where possible to avoid writing out too much, but don't make up abbreviations whose meaning you will forget six months later.
    Do not doodle on your notepaper. Drawing pictures or scribbling aimlessly interferes with your concentration and keeps you from listening to the speaker. You will miss facial expressions or gestures the speaker might make; these are important clues to what his words mean. Doodling also prevents your notes from being neat. The speaker receives a boost when he knows the audience is really listening, that it is maintaining eye contact with him. If you are daydreaming or otherwise not paying attention, you are wasting the speaker's time as well as your own.
    Have an extra pen or two in your pocket or purse. You never know when your pen might run out of ink. Be prepared so you don't have to miss any of the information or bother other brethren during services.
    Above all, use your notes. After you have gone to the effort of taking proper, conscientious notes, don't waste them by letting them collect dust on a shelf. Review the information you obtain at the 1980 Feast of Tabernacles, as well as all the material in this issue of The Good News, and apply the instruction in your life. As Herbert W. Armstrong says, knowledge is of no use unless it is acted upon. So use the knowledge God gives you — the meat He provides in due season — to change your life!

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Good News MagazineAugust 1980VOL. XXVII, NO. 7ISSN 0432-0816