In my first job I was handed a typical banker’s notebook and told that taking good notes was part of my job as an analyst. Exhaustive notes were important. Through promotions and a career switch to technology, those same notebooks and methods followed me. Simple banker’s notebooks were replaced with basic engineering graph notebooks or composition notebooks.
Briefly after graduate school I tried using Circa. The notebooks were novel, the product was very nice, but it wasn’t as effective for me as a simple, standard notebook.
Note taking for me is more about active listening and using my notes to make sure that the meetings or events that I’m part of are as effective as possible. It is less about the analyst assignment of taking exhaustive notes – more about making sure that meetings creative effective decisions and that the right actions follow.
In a typical year I’ll go through 5 – 7 sixty page dot grid notebooks. Somewhere I picked up the habit of a standard set of initial appendices and conclusion pages. These notebooks are not used for action items; that is a different method and for that I use disposable reporter’s notebooks and deliberately don’t keep the output.
Notebook goals are:
- Record events. Use paper to listen actively while letting the meeting flow and encourage participation.
- Plan for meetings, calls and events.
- Plan the year, and a rolling 24 month outlook.
- Record and distribute action items, strategies and conclusions from meetings.
- Make sure the team has balanced participation in meetings.