Taking notes is an essential activity in our lives. Most people underestimate the importance of taking notes but in reality, taking notes is one of those obvious life hacks that improve your life drastically.
You do not have to work in a big company or to be a student in order to take notes. Notes are helpful even in informal situations like writing down a shopping list. This is because notes are meant to be a summary of information that is intended to be reviewed at a later moment.
Here are steps that you can take in order to make notes efficiently.
#1 Be Prepared
If you are going to attend a meeting or a class, always be prepared to take notes. Carry enough pens and paper for the duration that you will be engaged in writing. Some people may prefer using electronic devices to take notes. When it comes to gadgets with keyboards, it may seem to the speaker that we are chatting and not paying attention to them. This may lead to the development of a lousy relationship between you and the speaker. We have also associated our electronics with social media and whatnot thus trying to use them to take notes may be counterproductive as we may be tempted to check our messages and notifications quickly.
When it comes to voice-recording devices, they function well enough but they have one limitation- they lack activity. You can just power up the recorder and sit back! This makes it easy for you to get distracted. Using paper, on the other hand, is an activity that requires you to pay constant attention to the speaker lest you miss out on whatever information they are trying to pass across.
#2 Pay Attention
Now that you have your pen and paper ready pay attention to the speaker do not let your mind wander off. You can do this by developing an actual interest in the subject at hand. Attention can be maintained by actively participating in the meeting or class. Ask questions. Give comments. Ask for clarifications. All these actions will help you pay attention to the speaker as you will be actively participating in the activity.
Other things that will help you pay better attention to the speaker include switching off your phone and completing urgent tasks before committing yourself to the note-taking session. Go to the bathroom before-hand. Have a snack if you are hungry. If you do not take care of important activities before-hand, they will distract you and hamper your effectiveness in taking notes.
#3 Develop a Note-taking Method That Works for You.
Most of the people that take notes on a regular basis cannot read each other’s work. This is because everyone has their unique way of presenting their ideas on paper. Writing what the speaker says verbatim is not an effective way of taking notes as it takes too long and involves too much writing. You would get bored very quickly.
A great way of taking notes is to break down what the speaker is saying into key points that follow a certain train of thought. Notes that flow can be easily deciphered compared to ones with points from different topics all jumbled up together. Keep your notes organized and neat.
#4 Go Through Your Notes Afterwards
The main point of taking notes is storing information in a short form that will be reviewed and expounded later. It is for this reason that you should always review your notes soon after you wrote them. The longer you wait, the more you will forget what the speaker said.
When you are reviewing your notes, it is a good idea to use a pen with a different ink color to differentiate the changes you made from the actual notes themselves. With your new pen, write out the abbreviations that you made on your notes, draw arrows to link points, make new notes on the margin and do whatever else that you do to expound on the notes. This will help you to conceptualize the topic that your notes were supposed to cover.
Always remember to keep your notes in a safe place as they serve a myriad of purposes. You might need to review them again or use them as proof. Minutes are notes that are used as proof that a meeting took place. Always take care of your notes.
That brings us to the end of this guide on how to take notes effectively. I am sure that many of you out there have your methods of note-taking such as using shorthand. Although it takes some time to learn, shorthand is a great way of taking notes. For those of you who would rather write their notes in your unique way, I hope this guide has helped you.
Remember note-taking is a basic skill that will help you improve your understanding of topics and to remember things easily.