Yourself While the art of note-taking is as old as the hills, you may not have considered making note-taking a part of your daily routine in our high-tech world.
A simple, well-constructed note has the potential to save you hours of time…and loads of energy. This post was inspired by a project I worked on last week. During my work, I had taken the time to create a series of thoughtful notes for myself.
Thankfully, my notes saved me from spending the better part of a morning figuring out a series of detailed actions from scratch.
In this post, I offer several tips on how to write notes to stay organized during your work. Hopefully, this mini-tutorial will help you stay organized and save you time in your work!
Identify a current project or assignment.
This can be either a personal or a professional endeavor, such as crocheting a scarf for a friend, or composing an administrative report at work.
Now, the project type really isn’t all that important; what matters is 1) you are continuously working on your project over the course of several days, weeks, or months, and 2) you want to easily pickup where you left off in your last work session.
Write detailed notes about your project.
Once you’ve identified your project, the next step is to get down to the nitty-gritty details. You’re now going to jot down a series of detailed notes that will help you pickup from where you left off.
Not just any note-taking will do; they key here is to make them as detailed and explicit as possible. You can write down your notes in a notebook, on a piece of paper, or type them into your computer or cell phone.
Even if a simple procedure, set of instructions, or your own thought processes seem patently obvious to you now, they won’t be when you take a look at then in a few weeks’ time.
Trust me on this one: over the years, I’ve personally uncovered my fair share of what I thought to be extremely detailed and obvious notes, only to find to out that they made absolutely no sense whatsoever in two months’ time.
Be as detailed as you possibly can in your notes. Itemize every single step you’ll need to take, every task, every action, every turn, or every button you’ll need to push. Remember, you’re not taking notes for yourself now; you’re writing notes for your future self.
The more painfully obvious you can be in your notes, the more likely you’ll say, “Hey, these notes are incredibly helpful!” to yourself in future.
What’s a foolproof way to test if your notes are detailed enough? Show them to a friend, family member, or colleague. If they can understand your notes now, you should be able to understand your notes at a later date.
Preferably, you should make your notes as soon as you finish working on your project. Yes, you may be tired, and yes, you may want to move onto something else, but this five-minute task has the potential to save you from five hours worth of wasted time!
Seriously though, take a deep breath, sit yourself down, and just do it.
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Get creative in your note-taking.
There are tons of opportunities every single day where you can catch the information floating around in your head, and transfer them to useful notes. You just have to do a little bit of thinking and get creative!
Try out any one of these ideas and write notes…
At the end of the week at work. Write down which projects and tasks you were working on, as well as their status, and any concerns you may have. You may also want to jot down what you’d like to accomplish the following week.
After you’ve finished a complex, multi-step process. Take notes after you’ve finished learning a series of steps to use a new piece of accounting software at work, operating a new kitchen appliance at home, or working with a new laboratory tool at school.
When you’re working on a passion project. Maybe you’re building a dollhouse from scratch, perfecting a chili recipe, or building a bike from spare parts. Write down what you’re up to, and when, as well as your train of thought.
When you make food shopping list. You can jot down in your grocery list which recipe you need an ingredient or food item, as well as the size of the food item or canned good, as well as the product brand or type.
When you’re working to improve yourself. Make detailed notes for yourself when starting a brand-new exercise routine, healthy-food regimen, or spiritual practice. This information can be incredibly helpful and inspirational to you as the weeks move go on.
Save your notes in a safe place.
Lastly, it’s important that you not only capture your notes, but to carefully store them. Remember, you’re writing your detailed notes so you can refer to them in future.
Treat your notes as if they are precious jewels or gold — because they are! Think carefully about storing your notes in a safe and accessible location in your home or office.
Above all, you want to make sure your notes don’t walk away from you!
Here’s a few storage ideas to get you started:
- Print out your notes and add them to a three-ring project binder, or pin them securely to a bulletin board
- Add detailed notes under a calendar entry or heading in your cell phone
- Tape or staple them to a file folder and place in a filing cabinet
- Staple your notes inside a notebook or journal
- Tape your notes to the kitchen fridge, back of a door, or on a countertop or desk