Organizing Tip: Why You Should Rewrite Your Notes

posted in: Organizing 3

Image of a person writing on a notepad with a penDo you take notes during meetings, phone calls, conferences and other events?

Wondering how to make the most out of this information?

In this post I offer some pointers on the benefits of writing over your notes, as well as a few helpful tips.

You’ll actively review your notes.

Do you take notes and then promptly shove them into a drawer or other place, never to read them again? The whole point of taking notes is so you can use this information at a later point in time!

Rewriting your notes gives your mind another chance to grasp information and process it, rather than just passively glancing through the material.

As you read through your notes, see if you can summarize information into bite-sized statements or sentences so it’s easier for you to understand in future.

You can better organize information.

Note taking is a fast-paced, and often fleeting process. You’re concentrating on what’s going on during the presentation/conversation and trying to capture bits of information for future use. It can be really difficult to make sense of all this information after the fact when you’ve got facts on one side of a page, quotes on another and a list references to check out. When you rewrite your notes, you have the chance to clean up all the information you have and organize it into something useful. Try finding similar pieces of information and concepts in your notes and then group them together for easier reference when you do your rewrite.

You can find out if you’re missing important information.

You took notes, so that must mean you collected every single bit of info during a presentation, meeting or lecture, right? Well, not quite, you might have inadvertently missed something and/or collected the wrong piece of information. Rewriting your notes forces you to piece together information and see if everything adds up correctly. If something looks a bit odd, strange or downright confusing, you can ask questions, check sources and do some more research to make sure you’ve gotten everything down correctly.

How about you? Do you have a collection of recently taken notes that might benefit from a rewrite? Join in the conversation and leave a comment below!

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Rashelle Isip is a New York City-based professional organizer and productivity consultant who helps people get organized so they can stress less, have more fun, and be happier at home. Her work has been featured in Good Housekeeping, Fast Company, Cosmopolitan, The Washington Post, Business Insider, and The Atlantic. Get access to her free guide, 10 Simple Ways to Make Your To-Do Lists More Effective, by clicking here.

3 Responses

  1. James from GTDNext.com
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    I do take a lot of notes. For my consulting I usually take them in http://onenote.com and send them out to people who attended with action items. I find this to be hugely useful if people miss deadlines, etc. I can send the notes back out again a few days before major deadlines as a reminder.

    During most meetings I am in, where I don’t have the responsibility of sending out notes, I still take notes, but usually take the right in my task manager GTDNext (http://GTDNext.com).

    I create a new task for each item assigned to me and will usually take quite a few notes on the action (if it’s complicated) so that I don’t forget the discussion. Works really well!

    • Rashelle
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      I like the idea of taking notes and then sending out action steps to meeting attendees. So often is this step ignored!

      • James from GTDNext.com
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        Yes, I think it’s an often missed step. Personally, I think it’s the responsibility of every meeting organizer to first send out an agenda and then to either take notes send them out, or to delegate that to someone in the meeting.

        When I do it, I try to use three major areas of the notes. I call it the NAD format.
        1. Actions – This is where I call out any actions. I like to put these at the top so they are easiest to see.
        2. Decisions. – Any decisions that were made in the meeting.
        3. Notes – Generally I take notes for each agenda item.

        This format works well for me at least.