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Time Management Skills: Making Good Written Notes

Time management skills: Making good written notes

Time management skills: Making good written notes

How good are you at taking written notes in meetings?

Some people are good at this: they take accurate, neat, structured, legible, written notes:
This ability makes them look good, sound good and helps them to be more effective.
Other people are not good at taking written notes: their notes are a mess: illegible, untidy, incomplete, and useless.
As a result, their notes make them look amateurish, ill prepared, and they negatively affect performance.
Are your notes: tidy, comprehensive and organised?
Or are they: fragmentary, untidy and confusing.

What are good written notes?

Good notes are those that accurately and objectively record the essence of a meeting.

Define: Essence

The essence is "the essentials: the crucial elements, omitting the trivial details".

For what purpose should you learn to take good notes?

  1. To act as a record
  2. Settle any disputes
  3. Record decisions: who will do what?
  4. To refresh your memory
  5. To guide your actions
  6. To minimise errors

The ability to take notes is an important skill.

The notes become the meeting!

The note taker may take one of two fundamental approaches to the task:

1. Sponge

The sponge tries to capture everything

2. Pan sifter

The pan sifter does not try to capture everything

Sponge

The sponge tries to capture everything.

She copies everything down and thinks to herself "I must record everything, I can sort it out later" She tries to duplicate a tape recorder. She cannot keep up. She falls behind. She panics, loses track, gives up and feels defeated.

Pan sifter

The pan sifter does not try to capture everything. She says "I only want the most valuable points. What is the essence?" She can keep up because she is mostly listening out for the relatively rare "conclusion statements "and "major reason statements".

Keep asking two questions

What is this persons MAIN point, on this issue?
What reasons is he/ she offering?

As a note taker you must keep asking and answering those two questions.

What is this person's MAIN point, on this issue? What is his essential point?
Once you have identified that, you must also try to answer: What reasons is he/ she offering for believing that this is true?

To the degree you answer these questions in your note taking, is the degree to which you are succeeding, to the degree to which you are not answering these questions is the degree to which you are failing.

Beware the primacy and recency effect

The primacy and recency effect is a psychological principle that the mind remembers in a sequence of events, those items that occur first and last. So we tend to miss out the material in the middle of the presentation.

Be careful and keep your mind switched on.

Use mental mapping as a method of recording meetings:

  1. Divide things into topics
  2. Allocate numbers to each speaker
  3. Write in pencil
  4. Write small and neat
  5. Write on straight lines
  6. Keeping sub sets and hierarchies
  7. NO BUBBLES, only bare lines
  8. Don't bother with colours

Practice taking notes on people and in situations where it does not matter if you mess up.
As practice, Map the "news at ten".
Map out "BBC question time".
Periodically, review these notes

For more information about time management training visit the Corporate Coach Group website.

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