5 easy tips for better notetaking

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Tips for notetaking

Even in our digital world, notetaking is an important business skill. Capturing minutes, recalling important information, and drafting agreements all depend on good notetaking skills. We look at 5 easy tips for doing it better.

We’ve written extensively in the past about the number of famous and successful people, including Hillary Clinton and Richard Branson, who swear by notetaking in meetings. But how can you do it better?

Here’s five easy tips from the Business Optimizer team to help you take better notes.

#1. Write your notes on paper

Did you know that when you take paper notes, you are better able to retain and recall that information? Scientists think it’s because when we take paper notes we engage more fully with the information. Whatever the reason, if you want the information to stick, write your notes on paper.

#2. Invest in a pen that works for you

If you can write effectively in pencil, this is the best option for the environment. Use a softer pencil, perhaps B or B2, so that it glides smoothly over the paper. If you prefer ink, choose a pen that takes refills, so you keep plastic waste to a minimum. Then experiment until you find a pen that works with your writing style.

#3. Make one point per line

Don’t be afraid of white space when it comes to paper notetaking. It’s a good idea to leave space around each individual point in case you need to go back and add more detail later (e.g. if the speaker reverts to an earlier point to expand upon it).

Using a fresh line for each point also helps later, when you refer back to your notes. You’ll be able to make sense of the information more easily and find the points you need faster.

#4. Use creative formatting

Use headings, capitals and underlining where possible in your notes to add emphasis and structure to the information. We also suggest experimenting with box outs where appropriate (for asides or examples) and making liberal use of bulleted lists to help organize information better.

As well as helping you to keep track of lists of information during the session (so you don’t miss a point), bulleted organization of information is really useful when you come to refer back to your notes later.

#5. Abbreviate

Skipping conjunctions where possible is a good way to speed up your notetaking. If you repeatedly use the same common words, it’s worth coming up with some abbreviations of your own for those words (as long as you remember what they mean!).

For the ultimate abbreviated notes, you could learn an official shorthand.

Five tips for better notetaking

Engage with the material as you write it down and your notes will make more sense when you read them back. That’s one of the reasons why paper notetaking is so much better than digital notetaking.

Follow our tips above and you’ll find that your notes are faster, easier and better.

What now?

Find more notetaking ideas on our blog: