Write To Remember Seven Keys To Better Note Taking

Write To Remember Seven Keys To Better Note Taking



People seem to​ be as​ divided on note taking as​ on any hot-button political issue. One group will give you all the reasons why they don’t take notes:

I’d rather focus on listening.
I don’t know what to​ write.
Note taking never worked for me in​ school.

While the note taking enthusiasts will counter with:

Taking notes keeps me focused.
I can always refer to​ my notes – I don’t have to​ rely on my memory.
Taking notes works for me.

While this article may not make the die-hard non-note takers convert, it​ will give them some tools to​ try. And even the most avid note takers will get some new ideas to​ add to​ their approach.

Most of​ us use note taking techniques we learned or​ developed while in​ school. at​ that time our goal was the acquisition of​ knowledge with the purpose of​ reciting it​ back on a​ test or​ examination. as​ adults our purpose for note taking is​ typically quite different. We are taking notes on:

A group meeting
A phone call
An interview or​ other face-to-face meeting
A workshop or​ seminar
A book, article, newsletter or​ podcast

In all of​ these cases, while we want to​ acquire knowledge or​ information, the end goal of​ our note taking isn’t a​ test, but application of​ what we’ve learned. as​ with most anything in​ life, when we change the goal we may want to​ re-examine and change the techniques we use to​ get there.

Here are seven ways to​ make your note taking more useful and valuable to​ you:

Start with the end in​ mind. Start by understanding why you are taking the notes. Don’t take them because you are “supposed to,” take them because you know what or​ how you might use them. Having this picture in​ your mind will help you take the right notes without being lulled into writing down everything.

Lose the linearity. Most people take notes that are very linear in​ nature. Not all lectures, conversation or​ meetings follow a​ strict 1, 2, 3 or​ outline pattern. Allow yourself to​ take notes without a​ strict linear format. There will be times to​ write a​ list, but there will also be occasion for more free more comments and thoughts.

Capture ideas. While you are in​ the workshop or​ conversation new ideas will spring up. They may be connected to​ the situation, or​ they may not - either way you want to​ capture the idea while you have it! Give yourself permission to​ write down your ideas with your notes.

Capture actions. The thing you are discussing or​ learning about (and therefore taking notes on) may suggest specific action steps you need to​ take. if​ you are taking notes in​ a​ meeting or​ face-to-face conversation this might seem obvious. But again, as​ you are engaged in​ taking notes you may think of​ a​ new action step or​ task. Make sure you write these down and don’t lose them.

Develop shortcuts. You will find that if​ you use abbreviations, or​ develop other shorthand that works for you, it​ will make your note taking easier and faster. Since you won’t likely be sharing your notes with anyone, the nature of​ your shorthand can be very personal. This technique will help you speed up your note taking.

Have a​ format. Perhaps you will find that developing a​ common format will make your note taking easier, or​ even more enjoyable. I divide a​ note taking page in​ to​ two columns. in​ the right column I take my normal notes. in​ the left column I draw a​ light bulb at​ the top – under it​ I place the ideas I have during the note taking situation. About half way down the left column I place a​ check mark inside of​ a​ small box. This is​ my icon for actions. I write the actions I think of​ or​ are generated while I am taking notes in​ this area of​ each page. I share my format as​ a​ example, you are welcome to​ use it​ or​ come up with your own!

Review and summarize. Perhaps the most valuable thing you can do comes after you are done. Take a​ few minutes to​ review your notes – adding any words or​ phrases that will make them clearer. The review process will help you remember and make the notes more useful. Once you have reviewed them, take a​ couple of​ minutes to​ note the most important points again. This summarization will serve as​ a​ great way to​ “lock in” the learning you gained from the situation.

Each of​ these seven things can help you improve the value of​ your notes. if​ you take notes regularly, try one or​ more of​ these approaches. And if​ you aren’t a​ note taker, consider these ideas as​ a​ way to​ try a​ new approach to​ note taking – one that might provide you value without the barriers you have encountered in​ the past.




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