Whether you are in a class studying for a degree, listening to your boss during an important meeting, or if you're out in the field doing research, everyone will have to take notes at some point in their life. Whenever you have to write something down, be it on paper or digitally, it is important that it's easy to go back and find that information without too much hassle, otherwise what's the point of even writing it down? To make things a little easier I've put together this guide to help you write better, clearer, and more informative notes!
I am a firm believer that everyone should have some sort of recording device. Whether it's a phone or a designated audio or video recorder doesn't really matter as long as it gets the job done. The important thing is that you have a way to access the full unedited information that you are recording. Audio recordings are insanely useful for reviewing pieces of meetings or even whole lectures and classes! I personally carry a small audio recorder in my laptop bag everywhere I go (that is school or work related). It's incredibly useful to review recordings you've made as you travel from place to place and go about your day! Just remember to offload your recordings to someplace safe so you don't lose them!
Write in Shorthand
Time and time again I've seen people (of all ages) try to take notes by writing entire sentences down. While this can work if you write super fast, it will also take too much of your attention away from whatever you're trying to take notes on. By using abbreviations and writing in incomplete sentences you are able to devote less time to focusing on what you're writing and more time on your lecture or meeting. Just be sure that you're still able to understand the writing when you go back to read it again! Some simple abbreviations that I use personally are; with = W/ and because = BC. I also find that it helps to write in broken English and even using symbols while jotting down notes! Something as long as "Can you have the 'note taking skills' blog finished and posted on Wednesday the twenty seventh?" can be turned into "Note blog due Wed 27th" !
Catalog your Collection
Throughout all of my years in school and through my first steps into my career of choice, organization has all ways been my downfall. Whenever you write anything down be sure to store it somewhere where you can easily find it again, be it a file cabinet in the office or a folder on your computer. I've had to learn this lesson far too many times, but it finally stuck after twenty years, and I haven't had an issue finding any of my documents since! I highly recommend making a central work folder on your computer with sub folders inside for all of your notes and presentations. Doing this one simple thing has made my work life so much more organized in that whenever I need a specific document I can just follow a folder pathway to find it. Even if you use a cloud service like Outlook or Google, keeping a master copy of your documents on a computer or flash drive is always a good idea. I've had computers stop working completely out of nowhere before and the only reason I was able to keep all of my files is that they were all backed up to clouds and hard drives!
Hopefully this short guide will help you with whatever note taking endeavors you find yourself in, whether they're at university, work, or even right here at Dream Mentorship!