3 Tips to Better Notetaking

As your day progresses, you need to stay on top of new things that come your way while keeping yourself focused on working through the stuff already on your plate.  That’s where good notetaking skills come into play.  (If you’re not already taking notes, you need to start.  Seems obvious, but some people just don’t take notes at all – and their productivity suffers as a result.)

Here’s 3 ways to get you taking – and making – better notes:

  1. Use shorthand that you understand. The art of shorthand is somewhat lost thanks to digital voice recorders and email, but when you do use a pen and paper to jot stuff down, don’t be too articulate or long-winded.  You’re using these as reference points, not handing them in as-is.  Speed up the process by using shorthand that you understand so you can expand upon them when you’re got the time to do so.
  2. Use software. There’s a wide range of software solutions for this.  Some sync with your computer and mobile device, some take your voice and turn it directly to text.  It’s nice to have a central place where all of your notes can be in case you ever need to refer to them as well.  While it may not be your primary notetaking method, it’s not a bad idea to have it handy regardless.
  3. Transfer them to your productivity system regularly. Notes on their own are not enough.  You need to categorize them and integrate them with the items already built into your productivity system of choice.  Otherwise they’re just going to end up out of your mind and, ultimately, out of your control.

Taking notes at all is the first step.  Better notetaking comes from wanting to give them more value when it comes to your path to being more productive.

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Mike Vardy an editor on Work Awesome. We could tell you where his personal productivity parody site, Eventualism and all of his other projects reside on the web, but you'd be best served going to Vardy.me and following the trail of virtual bread crumbs from there.


  1. Tim Sanchez on the 1st June

    Better notetaking has been on my mind recently. Your third point, transfer them to your productivity system regularly, is my downfall. I hate doing duplicate work, so my notes often fail to get input into our system.

    I purchased a Livescribe pen the other day (it arrives this week) to help me with that problem, so hopefully some of the automation tools it offers will get me headed in the right direction.

    • Micah Choquette on the 8th June

      Tim, I would LOVE to hear how your pen works. I too hate doing duplicate work, and would like to hear your experience with this.

  2. Darius on the 3rd June

    I only take notes in my exel file, where I also keep tracking my work and break time.

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