Tips for Better Note Taking

Michele Warg
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By the time they graduate high school or college, most people have experience with taking notes. Good note taking is a valuable skill that lets you acquire and retain important information, which can help you take advantage of opportunities that come your way. Here are a few tips for improving your note-taking skills.

Minimize distractions that may complicate the process. Taking notes can be difficult if environmental elements are distracting you from listening to the information being presented. Sit as close to the presenter as possible to avoid distractions caused by people sitting in front of you. It will also be easier to see and hear the presenter if you're close.

Focus on the most important information. Not everything in the presentation or meeting will be noteworthy. The story the boss tells about his vacation in Aspen is not nearly as important as details about the new changes in the company's administrative procedures. Focus on recording only the information that's noteworthy. Use markers, asterisks, or underlining to highlight the information that you really need to know.

Learn shorthand to simplify the process. The physical act of taking notes can be tiring, particularly if you're not used to writing by hand. Shorthand can reduce hand strain by minimizing the amount of actual writing. Rewriting your notes later will help you retain the information better is another benefit to learning shorthand. You can learn this skill online or take a class at a community college.

Make good use of technology. If taking notes by hand just isn't your thing, then use technology to capture the valuable parts of the presentation. Administrative assistants have many electronic tools at their disposal to make taking notes easier. Most smartphones have a recording feature that will record audio and video. Another option is a product like LiveScribe, which digitally records notes as you write and is also capable of recording audio. The notes can then be synced to a computer or a cloud data storage account.

Create a system for accessing information quickly. Taking notes is only one part of the equation—organizing notes so that you can access them quickly is the other part. When writing notes by hand, create an outline that lets you quickly refer to the information you need. Electronic note-taking devices often come with organizational software for easy data management. No matter which system you use, make sure it's one that works for you.

Good note taking is a skill that can be improved with a small investment of time and effort. Use these tips and other tools to make taking notes easier so that you can focus more on using the information to become more effective in your job.




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