Effective notetaking is often the unsung hero of the workplace. It can help you capture ideas, learn new concepts, organize your thoughts, share information, and much more—but in order for your notes to be effective, you first have to learn the right notetaking strategies. We’ve got you covered. Whether you’re in a one-on-one with your boss or in a large company meeting, these simple strategies will help you take better notes at work—and get more out of them.
1. Ditch the Laptop
Your brain reacts differently to passive versus active actions during notetaking. Recent research has proven that since writing by hand is an active action, it is often more effective then typing for notetaking. Plus, when you are having one-on-one meetings with clients or your boss, it is nice to not have a laptop “wall” between the two of you. Laptops can also be a distraction in larger meetings, due to email pop-up alerts and social media notifications. Using a notebook eliminates these distractions and keeps you open and engaged.
2. Use the Right Notetaking Tools
As research has proven, handwriting is better for retaining what you write, but first you need the right tools. Using a lined or dotted/gridded notebook (like for bullet journaling) will help keep your notes organized and make writing easier. Then, choose different and make a statement with the right pen. The STEEL F-701 Ballpoint Pen is all-metal and has a heavy-duty feel you’ll notice right away. Plus, it’s refillable so you’ll never have to worry about replacing your entire pen. For other professional but still stylish options that features gel ink, check out the Sarasa Grand.
3. Focus on the Right Things
Your notes should not be a straight transcript of an entire meeting. Afterall, we all know how meetings can tend to meander onto tangents before getting to the meat and potatoes. Make sure you take down the main bullet points and any additional comments or questions you may have. The key is to focus on capturing the basic facts, issues that need to be resolved, decisions that have been made, and action plans including who is responsible for completing these tasks.
4. Less is More
When it comes to notes, taking less is actually more. Take down keywords, skip unneeded words, or write down partial sentences. While this sounds strange, you will actually be able to capture more notes than trying to write down every single word that is said. Once you are finished with the meeting, write up a full summary while the information is still fresh in your mind. This gives you the opportunity to fill in all the blanks, so when you look back you have everything you need from the meeting.
5. Keep it Bold
While taking notes, make sure to highlight or bold the most important information. This allows you to more easily locate the important takeaways when skimming your notes later. If you are handwriting your notes, make sure to bring a highlighter with you to your meeting. If typing, use the highlighter, italicize, underline, and bold options to make your notes more effective.
No matter what profession you’re in, taking notes is part of the job. These tips and tricks will help you be more productive and effective no matter what career you’re in.