Where I work, there are a ton of meetings. The first thing that often surprises me is how many people don’t take notes at all. The other thing that surprises me is that of the people that take notes, if you go to them later with a question about the meeting, they will have no idea, even though they have taken pages of notes.
We take notes during school so we have been doing it for a long time – but why do we suck at it when it comes to our job?
As I struggle with this as well, the Manager Tools podcast this week on note taking was a blessed relief. I highly recommend this podcast. These guys rule and can help distill a ton of knowledge down into bit sized chunks.
Here is what I learned:
Notes are meant for action. Not for memory.
Notes for meetings are not lecture notes.
If you get slides print outs and they are also projected – ignore the print out, because you will miss so much by being distracted by the printout.
1. Be selective – Can’t write it all down. So what should you write down? Who, what or when.
2. Use symbols abbreviations – most people do this at least according to this podcast.
3. Drawing and diagrams – most people don’t do this. Our brain doesn’t store information in a line, but more in pictures therefore if you want to remember things, use graphs, flow charts, etc.
4. No typing. Don’t bring your laptop/blackberry to meetings they don’t allow you to interact in meetings.
5. Use a template system – This allows you to do several things: have a memory area, a capture space and action area.
6. Take action quickly. Notes allow you to transfer information from short-term memory to working memory. Do something with those notes as soon as you can so that you can stay on top of your projects/to-do items.
Hope these help you, they really have me.