Note Taking Can Be Habit Forming

By Lissa Cupp, vice president, e-Commerce & Consumer Marketing, ACCO Brands

The importance of good note-taking cannot be emphasized enough—that’s why it is a frequent topic of discussion among planners and organizers. That said, it must also be stressed that just as important as taking notes is the WAY you take those notes.

Much like the information in your calendars and journals, notes should be well-organized in order to best use them for future planning and productivity. You need to get in the habit of creating and compiling your notes in a consistent manner so that it becomes second nature.

Here are a few quick tips to help you create those habits:

Write them down. Studies show that we have better retention of information when we write out our notes versus typing them directly into our computers. Granted, if your direct typing method works for you and your needs, there is always an exception to the rule, but nevertheless, give the written word a try.

Categorize into sections. Use separate areas in your notebook—perhaps divided by tabs or page separators—to keep like notes together. This helps ensure all pertinent information on individual topics are easy to find and prevents mixing up subjects that aren’t related to one-another. Major sections could include:

  • Business, meetings and projects: Be sure to keep this section is chronological order and label each section with the date, topic, location and other information that will help you identify the project.
  • Communications: This section contains information around phone calls, texts and other conversations. We suggest recording them in daily segments, making it easier to integrate the information with your planner and calendar.
  • Ideas and other information: We all have ideas pop in our heads throughout the day—this section captures these to ensure they don’t slip through the cracks.

Store your notes. The purpose of taking notes is that they serve as reminders and refreshers about the events and tasks you’ve addressed over any given period of time. And if you’re like us, we are always rifling through old notes as we work on accomplishing our goals for the day. Some storage tips include:

  • Integrate daily. While the notes and their information are still fresh in your mind, record that information in your planner—use a task list for action items, your calendar for appointments and deadlines, and a diary section for other noteworthy information.
  • Use some type of filing system. Whether its folders or binders, you need a good system in place if you want to be able to find what you’re looking for in an efficient manner. Once you integrate the notes into your planner, file immediately.
  • File all notes! What may seem like an unimportant detail today may prove to be vital for future plans. Remember: If you wrote it down in the first place, it must hold some type of value.

The key to developing good note taking habits is consistency. Follow these steps on a regular and timely basis and you’ll ensure yourself that nothing gets overlooked. Plus, by making these habits a part of your daily routine, you’ll realize time saved and greater productivity by eliminating the need to search through piles of unsorted notes. So, make a note of it and get in the habit today.

[photo by olasis]

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