5 Note-Taking Tips for a More Productive Workday

There is no “right” way to take notes. People learn, process and recall information differently — some people might respond better to the doodles in their notebooks, while others find it best to highlight important points. Whatever your note taking style, these five strategies will help boost productivity during your workday.

  1. Make a to-do list...at an unexpected time Before you write this one off as common sense, listen up! Write yourself a to-do list at the end of the day. Studies show that this practice provides a clear plan first thing in the morning, so you can start in on your tasks right away (yes, even before that first cup of coffee) without expending energy to recall what, exactly, you’re supposed to be doing. Designate a specific note pad for this technique (try the Ampad® Gold Fibre Notepad with a vertical format — it’s perfect for making lists).
  2. Create a summary section At the end of a meeting, jot down action items, key points, contact information and anything else you need to remember. Make this area stand out with a highlighted box, a pen in a different color than the rest of your notes, or a TOPS FocusNotes™ Notebook designed with its own summary space. Encapsulating the main points of the meeting immediately after will ensure the most relevant information is fresh in your mind, and guarantee a concise rundown when you reference the information later.
  3. Use what you’re given Sometimes it makes sense to write directly on the meeting agenda or slideshow handout where the main points are already outlined. If the printout is cramped, take notes in your notebook, but use corresponding numbers or letters to avoid rewriting the existing framework. You can always tear your notes out and attach them to the agenda.
  4. Call time-out If you’re having trouble getting all of the relevant information from a meeting into your notebook, ask for a moment to record your thoughts or suggest a break in the action. Studies have shown an improvement in note quality when lecturers offered periodic breaks so that students could review and flesh out their notes. You might find that others appreciate the opportunity to collect their thoughts on paper, formulate questions or re-record something that at first was unclear.
  5. Check out your reflection Studies have long supported journaling as a way to de-stress, but jotting down your thoughts can also increase your productivity at work. When you intentionally articulate key insights from the workday through reflection, you can draw more meaningful connections and learn from experience — even when it’s your own. Grab a snazzy book, like the Idea Collective® Mini hardbound journal, and start jotting down a few key thoughts at the end of each day. You might be surprised at what you learn.

With these strategies in mind, rethink the way you take notes. The results might even be so good that you look forward to the weekly status meeting. Write on!

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