Where do you take notes?
That is a tough question for many to answer. In fact, a note-taking tool is usually the tool missing from most time management toolkits.
Todo lists, calendars, and even address books are pretty common. But, as simple as they need to be, not everyone has a note-taking tool at their disposal.
The Wrong Tool for the Job
Recently, I have seen people taking notes in all kinds of weird places. I have no idea how they will find or organize them later.
Using the wrong tool for the task at hand only creates more frustration and work later. If you don’t have a note-taking tool or are recording your notes in odd places, you won’t be able to find them when you need them.
Some of the strange places I have seen note-taking recently:
- Excel – Great for numbers, not so much for notes.
- Email – OK, I get that you are sending your notes somewhere, but how are you going to find them again.
- Legal Pads – Paper is a great note-taking medium, but pads that you “tear off” are wonderful at losing notes.
- Post-It Notes – Amazing little stickers, but not great for notes that you need to retain.
If you are going to be able to find a piece of information when you need it again, you need to take your notes in the right place.
There are many great note-taking options ranging from notebooks to mobile apps to web-based tools. Choose one that you like and will use.
Here are 5 Tips to Help You Keep Your Notes All in One Place:
- One Place for Your Notes (Or Two?) – Have one place for your notes. Or if you must two… I use both a paper solution (due to client environments) and an electronic one (my iPhone). Minimize the places you take notes. When you go looking for a piece of information, you don’t want to search a dozen places. (This is one area that I sometimes break my own rule of “The Power of One.”)
- Get a Notebook – Don’t use random pieces of paper or even a legal pad. Get a notebook. Something that will contain your notes and be one place to write things down. (My current favorite paper notebook is by Baron Fig.)
- Bring it Everywhere – Your notebook can’t help you if it’s not with you. Just like your todo list and other tools, it must be with you at all times. If it is a paper notebook or planner, it should always be carried. If it is your phone, you probably have it in your pocket or purse at all times.
- Carry a Pen – Ever have to ask someone if you can borrow their pen? That may work for one piece of random info, but it won’t help you when you need to take notes in your next meeting. Always carry a pen so that you can be ready to capture notes in your notebook.
- When in Doubt, Write it Down – You don’t know what small detail will be important later. If it is something that your brain won’t retain, then capture it. Err on the side of too many notes. If in doubt, write it down. I recently observed an individual attend a multi-day conference and he only took three lines of notes. My guess is there was much more information that could have been retained.
Where Are You Taking Your Notes?
Don’t let your notes get away from you.
Ensure you have a note taking tool that was meant for taking notes.
Capture it all, you never know what you’ll need again. But you will know exactly where it is, the next time you need it.
Question: What is your note-taking tool? You can leave a comment by clicking here.