Are You Taking Your Notes in All the Wrong Places?

5 Tips to Keep Your Notes All in One Place

Taking Notes in Wrong PlacesWhere 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:

  1. 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.”)
  2. 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.)
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

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Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • David Musick

    I use Field Note brand notebooks ( fieldnotesbrand.com ). They are a throwback to the pocket notebooks farmers used years ago. They are 3.5″ x 5.5″ and I can carry a couple in my shirt pocket or a pants pocket. One for general use, and a second if I have a major project going on that merits its own book.

  • For me, I am a big fan of “Calendar” and “Evernote”.

    They save me a lot of memorization, hassles and back-and-forth. If there are notes which I need to check upon later, I use Evernote.

    If I need to do something at specific time, I block my Calendar and expand the task in my evernote with details.

    I highly recommend them. Stay Awesome.

  • Elaine Canha

    I have 3 places to take notes: notes section on my main planner; Small notebook that is my In Box Main to GTD; app ColorNote, for situations that can not write down on paper. Eventually, I use the block I have in my freezer to write down items to shopping list. I always try to limit myself to the notebook and ColorNote.

  • Jeff Russell

    I use Evernote digitally, but for paper notebooks I wonder how best to catalog information to be able to find it again? Over time you end up rifling through pages of notes in a notebook (or notebooks) trying to find that piece of info you know you wrote down. I’ve struggled with this one for a long time.

  • Cliff Tuttle

    Actually, I have four places — two of which I adopted on your recommendation. I carry a spiral notebook in my “bookbag” for taking notes at meetings. I find it too hard to listen, talk and type at the same time. These notes can be transcribed and amplified later in an electronic file on Day One or incorporated into an email.

    I take notes while reading and organizing ideas as well as make outlines in my Day One Journal. I also make daily to do lists and periodic lists of accomplishments there. I especially like the search function in Day One, which searches the entire text, not just headings.Day One is loaded on my iPad only, which is usually packed in the book bag.

    I make quick notes while traveling or away from work on Evernote on my iPhone. This keeps me from forgetting something that pops into my head or recording a piece of information I will need later.

    In addition, I do send emails to clients confirming telephone calls and the like. Many of these emails are dictated, which makes them very efficient. I don’t find it difficult to retrieve, since they are searchable by the name of the recipient. If the recipient is a third party, I blind copy my client, which makes the email searchable by client name.

    I have considered reducing the number of places I take notes, but for me it does’t make sense. All of the foregoing are easily retrievable and I often search in all four places. I would not try to eliminate any of them, since they all serve a unique purpose.

    CLT

  • Kateri Little

    For years I have used a work journal. It is a composition notebook, — remember the sewn black and white notebooks from years ago? They’re inexpensive, nothing falls out of them and they are smaller than most tablets.I used the quad ruled, because the graph paper helps keep flow charts/diagrams neat during initial planning. Every day gets a page. Sample documents are stapled to the back of the work day if necessary for future reference. Items are color coded with highlighters (meetings: green, research:orange, general info: yellow, training: pink, follow up: blue, spreadsheet: red outline) and the last page is an index, also color coded, so that I may easily find my work. I summarize/index the journal once a week so that I know what progress I’m making, or not making, and I may carry items forward with priority. It goes with me everywhere and is my primary organizational tool. Electronics are nifty, but old school has an expediency for me that still works when wi fi doesn’t.

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  • Jerry Fenter

    I started using the bullet journal method about 5 months ago, and have never looked back. It is a future log for planning ahead, and it’s a record of what’s occurred as I take notes, etc. One of the best productivity tools I have found.