Sanity Saver # 2 – In and Out Notetaking

Ever heard of “in and out thinking?”  Maybe not, but I can guarantee you have experienced it.

The American Psychological Association studied what people did during a seminar, speech or workshop.  Their findings may be surprising to you.  According to the research findings, at any given moment, here’s what was on their minds:

  • 18% are really listening to the presenter
  • 25% are having erotic thoughts
  • 57% are thinking about something else

So that is “in and out thinking”.   The reason this happens is because we can hear and comprehend about 900-950 words a minutes but people can only speak about 150 words a minute.  Your mind is only fully attentive for the first 13 – 18 seconds of any conversation or presentation because it can work so much faster than the person is speaking.  It starts to think about other things.  Everybody does it.

This can be a real challenge.

Once your mind grabs hold of any thought other than what is being presented, it has a tendency to continue to build on that thought going deeper and deeper.  You can be 10 connections or more deep from your first thought before you realize you’ve missed a significant chunk of what you were supposed to be listening to.

So what can you do about it?

Try using In and Out Notetaking.  You can set up your notebook as shown below or put both IN and OUT notes on the same sheet of paper as two labeled columns with a line drawn down the middle.

If you implement this method you will find that it can free your mind up to listen to the content of the conversation or presentation more often.  This is because you write the “out” thoughts down right away so that you won’t forget them and then you can go straight back to attentive listening.

As a rapid associative thinker, this was life changing for me.  I hope it will be for you as well.