Increase recall and understanding by taking organized and hand-written notes

It’s important to take meeting notes. For engineers and designers especially, decisions find expression in our work – so it’s important to record and catalog conversation, decisions and thoughts.

I’ve kept a work journal for the since Oct. of 2014. Since that time I’ve gone through 5 or 6 journals. The recording was never a problem – it was the catagorization that was an issue. After a co-worker at Rackspace asked me if I ever went back and looked at my notes, I realized that I couldn’t – my notes were too disorganized.

So I did some research, and found a few good articles about note taking. This one in particular was my favorite article on note-taking.

The biggest take-away? I needed to be much, much more organized in my note-taking. Check out the notes I took for the previous 2.5 years:

Disorganized notes

My original (disorganized) notes from a talk by Rackspace CEO Taylor Rhodes. These are very nearly a waste of time. You can tell that the information is jumbled in my memory. This makes recall much, much harder.

Organized notes:

These are my notes after I got organized. Nearly every day’s notes look like this. The uniformity makes it much easier to scan topics, see what is high-level and what is detail, and to write day-level notes in the margin so that I can easily access important information in the future.

As you can see from the images above, my notes are much more organized. Not only are the day-to-day notes structured in a way that’s easy to follow, the column on the left-hand side of the page allows me to quickly scan back through the past and see relevant dates, see important action items, priority-labled notes and people I’ve met.

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