Jot it down! Why note taking is critical to your success

Maxim #28
Take Notes

maxim_28It’s surprising how few people take notes during meetings. You would think that with the manner in which we all get bombarded with information of various sorts throughout the day, that making some notes as memory joggers would be helpful. Especially in a meeting, which is generally designed to be a formal communication of ideas or specific relevant information of some kind. But look around your next meeting and see how many people are actually making notes. There are usually more people looking at their smart phones than there are people taking meaningful notes. It may indicate one of three things:
  1. People believe they have the ability to remember everything important from a meeting
  2. If something is important to remember there will be handouts provided
  3. Information provided in the meeting is not that important.
To address these three notions:
  1. Experience eventually teaches you that you do not remember everything important that was said or shown in meetings and if you don’t take notes one day it will cost you or your company.
  2. Handouts are often provided but the really important information is usually spoken in reference to the handout, and is not easily derived from the handout itself.
  3. Finally, and unfortunately, many meetings are more about status updates than true insights but that simply means you don’t need to take many notes.
There are a couple of other good reasons to take notes. Taking notes during a meeting is respectful. It tells the person speaking or presenting that you are actually interested in what they have to say. It also forces you to listen more intently to the actual points being made.
One trick to get yourself into the habit of taking good notes is to force yourself after every meeting to take five minutes and summarize your notes into three key points that you need to retain.