From diaries to ledgers, we love to document our thoughts and experiences. At work, its particularly important to keep a written record with notetaking. Why?
- Notetaking turns you into an active listener. When you take notes, you’re simultaneously paying attention to and engaging with the information being conveyed because you’re identifying the parts that are most important to you.
- Notetaking helps retain your unique thoughts and preserve unused ideas for the future. Not all good ideas can be used right away; notetaking helps save them for later.
- Notetaking reveals your thought process. Your notes expose your problem-solving path and show how you got from point A to point B. This helps in constructing a rationale if you need to defend an idea.
- Notetaking helps you pick up where you left off. It’s often necessary to step away from your work—to stretch your mind and body and rejuvenate yourself. The fear is that in this time of rest you’ll lose your flow and progress in your subject. Not to worry if you take notes—they act as bookmarks that bring you up to speed when you’re ready to continue your efforts.
So how can you improve your notetaking?
- Your notes should reflect your process. Scientific notes are often written with clear steps, rationales, and results. Artistic notes might feature abstract topics, references, rough sketches, and basic ideas. Keeping this in mind, your notes can help get you in the proper mindset for the tasks you’re working on.
- Keep your notes organized. Notes are best written point-by-point as a list. Using lists necessitates shorter and sharper writing. You could even create a shorthand using shapes, lines, colors, or symbols to mark or highlight different points and categorize your thoughts. An efficient use of your marking system allows for quicker skimming when returning to old points.
- Use the resources available to you. If you aren’t a notebook person, recording notes digitally on your phone or laptop has unique benefits. You can directly link source material from websites, attach audio and video media files, and share your notes with others through email, text, or Slack. For some, it’s quicker to type than write. You can always take advantage of both formats—online and on paper—if that works best for you.
- Get creative. I write best on the right pages of my notebook. So, I skip the left page, but these pages are not wasted. Flip the book upside down to turn the left page into a right page. I leave these pages for a different subject so I don’t have to constantly flip your notes. Now, I have two notebooks in one that are both easier to read and write in. This trick may not work for everyone, but thinking outside the box and working to your quirks and habits can keep your organized.
Are you a notebook person, or do you prefer using technology? Maybe you even have a project management system you use to document your thoughts. Share your best notetaking tips in the comments on our Facebook page.