Meetings. Something we all sit through yet no one looks forward to them. When was the last time you were in one that you really enjoyed? Or maybe you can recall the last meeting you enjoyed because it stands out so much. It’s safe to say that most of the time they don’t end up being your favorite part of your day.
One way to make meetings more productive is to learn to take good notes and that involves having the right tools. Two of the best journals for this purpose from our Rustico collections are the Writer’s Log Refillable Notebook and Large Composition. They are handmade with durable leather covers and come with a lined insert. We really love how the Large Composition lays flat so there’s no need to hold down pages you aren’t using.
With distractions behind and your journal and pen in hand, you’re ready for some tips to creating effective notes.
Do What Works for You
Create your system - Everyone understands and retains information differently, so it’s important to define and stick to a system that works for you. Create a way of taking notes, whether it includes columns, illustrations, or bulleted topics and subtopics, that you're comfortable with. It’s more important to be able to understand and locate topics and notes then it is for them to look “pretty”. Writing unlocks your creative capabilities and leads to better problem-solving. Create your own style or use an already popular technique.
The Cornell Method is one effective way to take notes as it separates keywords and questions in one column, corresponding notes in the main body and a summary at the bottom. It’s an approach that promotes active learning. By finding your system you’ll add purpose to your studying and be more resourceful. Whatever works for you, commit to it.
Keep it simple - There are many ways to organize your notes. Don’t get carried away with too many colors, binder tabs, or notebook inserts that are likely to cause confusion. Develop your own system of abbreviations and symbols that you can use to speed up your writing. Make your notes brief. Don’t use a sentence when a few words or phrase would work. It’s also a good idea to leave the occasional blank space so you can put additional comments and slide notes in later.
Review and Edit - How often do you review your notes after you’ve taken them? You probably do only when you need to put your knowledge on display. Most adults have an attention span of 20 minutes and that’s a number that’s decreased over the last decade. Without the regular reviewing of notes, the fast-paced lives we live and our dependence on technology cause us to retain less of what we learn. You’ll focus better and retain more if you refer to your notes often.
Other ways to get the most out of each meeting are:
- Avoid distractions - Notifications shout for your attention so leave your electronics behind.
- Come prepared - Look up topics beforehand so you can be a contributing member.
- Write to remember - Take down action items and tasks you will follow up on.
Arrive on time. Use a notebook and pen rather than your laptop, as the computer only provides a greater chance you’ll get distracted. With your computer or tablet, you ’ll find yourself returning to a text conversation or your Instagram feed; we all do it.
Your notes are the key to remembering and digesting information. With these ideas, our next challenge to you is to leave your laptop and take your journal so you can improve your presence in meetings.