Take note, taking notes is important: try this

Personal productivity No Comments

Here’s the way we’d suggest you try taking notes:

for any given meeting, keep the notes all on one double-page spread. This means you can easily access what you’re writing during the meeting – the ideas are always right in front of you – and when you return to them later, you won’t have to flick through lots of pages. It IS possible to do this, even for a 3 or 4 hour meeting, and still have better recall than scribing pages of notes.

moleskin notebookwrite small so that you can keep it on one double-page spread

use a blank notebook, not one with lines. The Moleskine large hardback with plain paper is ideal. It’s just slightly smaller than a piece of A4 paper when opened out. It’s not the cheapest but it’s a delight to write in and you won’t be using up so many pages per meeting! 

as you first start writing things down, don’t worry where it goes on the page. Leave things unstructured for a while until it makes sense to begin connecting things. This will be tough for those with personalities that prefer structure from the outset. But try it – it’s all about holding off judging or pre-shaping the ideas.

summarise what you’re hearing and thinking.  Keep each point succinct, write in short phrases, use keywords.

write in your own words.  Only write verbatim if you want to be able to quote something back. 

start to make connectionsbetween the things you are writing.  Put related points near each other if you can, even though they come up at different times in the meeting (that’s the advantage of not writing chronologically down the page). Other things that are linked to each other can be joined up by lines and arrows.

draw images or doodles if that helps you understand, remember or communicate a concept. Not everything has to be in words.

bring in your own ideas where these add to what is being said. Think ahead to what may useful to introduce into the discussion and make a note of those things.

use visual ‘flags’ to differentiate between key concepts, over-arching themes, questions, conclusions, actions. Underlining, bold, caps, asterisks, various shaped bullets, square checkboxes, circles – all of these work to help you see different things when you scan the page.

Practicing using these principles should help with embedding and processing the content you’re generating. At any point in the meeting, you should be able to quickly scan the page in front of you and choose the most effective contribution to make next.

Willing to give it a try?

Tags: , ,

Phil's Blog

Sign up for Phil’s regular blog.

Email: phil.hadridge@idenk.com