A Woman working and taking notes

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Eight Efficient Note-Taking Tips

Keeping up whilst taking notes can be extremely difficult, but we all know how important it is to come away from discussions with the key points. Having a neurological difference can make note-taking especially difficult as it requires the following to happen all at the same time:

  • Listen
  • Keep focus
  • Remember
  • Follow the general structure of a discussion
  • Identify key points
  • Write notes

Here are some top tips for taking notes to ensure that you can walk away from meetings, training sessions and conversations with confidence:

1) Plan

Try to get handouts or an agenda for the talk/meeting/training session. Try and prepare some ideas beforehand and write down questions you want to ask. Request background information on the discussion so you can familiarise yourself with the information before attending. If you are expected to partake in the meeting it can be helpful to prepare what you are going to say in advance.

2) Devices

Where possible use a recording device to obtain the information. This will be a safety net in capturing information. You can utilise your phone, a Dictaphone or Live Scribe Pen. Just remember! Obtain consent from others before recording them. Additionally, the use of laptops and tablets can save time and help with organising notes to avoid losing pieces of paper or notepads. Alternatively, if you prefer taking notes by hand you could invest in some pens that support your writing such as Stabilo Easy Gel pens, or you could take photos, or scan in handwritten notes to avoid losing information.

3) Abbreviations and symbols

Make a list of abbreviations for commonly used words and adapt words into symbols. For example:

h = there was an improvement in…

i = there was a reduction in…

g = this leads to…

✓ = an advantage of this is…

X = a disadvantage of this is…

4) Templates

Using templates can help to organise your notes in a structured way that will be easier to refer to when checking over your notes for information. It can also prompt you to take down important information. 

5) Colour coding

Use different colours to highlight different key points or subjects. You can use colour to categorise information. This could be done after the discussion has taking place, which will support your memory and organisation of the notes.

6) Mind-mapping

Mind maps can be a useful way of capturing information and putting it into a usable format. They can support retention and understanding of relationships between different elements of the information. Software such as MindView is an excellent tool which can support you in mind-mapping whilst taking notes.

7) Recap

Recapping the information once you have left the meeting by going over your notes alone or discussing with others can support your retention of the information. Furthermore, sending a follow-up email or writing the information up on your computer will rehearse the information and check for clarity.

8) Understanding the information

Where appropriate, to support your understanding you can ask the speaker to give you one bit of information at a time or slow down. You could paraphrase/summarise to check your understanding. Ask when you would like something repeated or rephrased and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

 Content provided by Lexxic.