This is the fourth post in the continuing series 31 Tips to Spend Time Properly. These tips will help you invest your time more wisely, productively and energetically each day. Some of the tips can be done immediately; others require cultivation. All are time well spent.
31 Ways to Spend Time Properly
Tips 17-20: The wasted time of faulty note taking
Everyone who has sat in a meeting or collaborated with others has experienced the wasted time and frustration of faulty note taking. At best, the lack of note taking skills only costs us the time lost in discovering and recovering the missed information. At worst, absent or inaccurate information can lead to unrecoverable mistakes, the loss of respect from coworkers and friends, and sometimes, a demotion or loss of a job.
It’s been said many times that information is power. To the extent that statement is true, then effectively and reliably capturing information is genuinely self empowerment.
Here are four simple tips that you can use to eliminate the hidden time waster of faulty notetaking:
17. Mark what you read with a pencil/marker. Whether you are reading a meeting handout, report, magazine, book or digital document, wisely invest the time to mark, highlight or notate important texts. When you have to refer to that document later, you will more rapidly find the information you need. For a great help in developing a mark-up system that meets your specific needs, read a timeless excerpt from Mortimer Adler’s How to Mark a Book. If you read books electronically, such as Kindle, make full use of the reader’s highlight and bookmark features.
18. If something is not clear, ask for clarification. Never assume you’ll be able to make sense of your notes later. Seek clarification for confusing or contradictory information, whether spoken or written. Otherwise you could find yourself having to re-research the topic or contact the speaker, in addition to looking foolish or ill-prepared.
19. Don’t trust your memory. When those great ideas come suddenly to you, jot the idea down as soon as possible. Maintain a small notebook, paper or electronic. At best, the lost time spent trying to reconstruct an idea will always be longer and more frustrating than getting it down when the idea first surfaced. At worst, the idea is lost to the ever-present rush of work and life around each of us.
20. If you have a smart phone, use it! I’m always surprised when a friend or associate struggles to get down information when their smart phone is nearby. If you don’t have a recorder app, simply take a video of yourself announcing your latest and greatest idea. Or snap as many pictures as needed to capture a colleague’s notes, a page of a book, an inspirational poster, the attendees of a meeting – whatever can be captured with a simple click.