This article is for those who love to write notes- at meetings, in class, to others, and to themselves.
I am one among you and over the years, I have got better at taking notes. When I say better, I mean faster, accurate, and most importantly efficient. To become faster, you need to practice more and more. To become accurate, you need to listen carefully before beginning to write. For efficiency, you need to be prepared, alert, and a little methodical in your approach. Consider these 3 simple points:
WHAT TO WRITE
Your writing should not be a trade-off for listening. Listen carefully. Be a sponge and absorb every word. Write down only what is essential such as, your action items, queries, points for further research etc. It is easy to skim through notes before a class or meeting if it is short and to the point.
HOW TO WRITE
If you use a note- taking program such as Evernote, OneNote, Word, etc. always add the latest note on top, by date. Usually, the practice is to scroll down and add the latest note at the bottom (in continuation). It’s time to break the habit. Start fresh and start on top. Your previous note is right below in case you need to refer it.
HOW TO MAKE IT EFFECTIVE
Unless you are writing a personal diary, no note to self is complete without a list of action items. In a work scenario, your notes will mostly comprise of points that require you to act upon. The action could vary from research to organizing a follow-up meeting. Spend an additional five to ten minutes after a meeting/ class to review and organize your notes. Do not procrastinate. You might end up spending more time synthesizing and trying to recollect bits of information. Do it when the information is fresh in your mind. This process of reviewing your notes right after a class/meeting also aids in memory retention.