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Notes should be helpful, not hurtful — find a method that works for you!

(OPINION EDITORIAL) Work meeting and phone calls are often a tad boring. Finding an interesting way to take notes can help retain information and pass the time.

personal assistant notes

Counterproductive was my middle name

Have you ever thought so hard or tried to put so much planning into productivity that it actually turns into counterproductive-ity? I often fall victim to this why I like to create the illusion that I’m being productive but am not actually helping myself.

For me, this generally correlates with organization. The work I do requires tons and tons of organization, which also includes many handwritten notes, Post-Its, calendars, etc.

The trial and error method

It took me a while, but I finally found a method that worked for keeping all of my work clean and organized. While it’s highly unlikely that it would make sense to anyone else, the point is that I’ve found a retentive method through trial and error.

Though in-depth bullet journals and watercolor planners are cool in an artistic sense, these are also quite counterproductive.

For work purposes, it may be beneficial to try one of the following note-taking strategies to keep your information organized. This is particularly helpful during meetings and conference calls.

The Cornell Method

For this, you draw something of a large hangman stick, where to the left of the vertical divider, you take down keywords and questions. To the right, you take general notes, use abbreviations and symbols, and summarize important notes.

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Underneath all of this, you write a brief summary of the meeting as a whole in your own words. For this method, shorthand “text” language can be helpful.

Mind Mapping

With this, you draw yourself an untangled little web. In the center, place an oval with the main concept. From there, draw lines leading to other ideas.

These other ideas are the sub concepts (which can be written within the shape of your choosing to make it a little less dry.)

This helps to divide ideas, yet keep them all in one place.

It is beneficial for visualizing the big picture and focusing on the main concepts.

Visual Note-taking

This is for someone with actual artistic prowess, unlike myself who can only go as far as stick figures. This method allows you to storyboard ideas through use of chronological pictures.

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Obviously, pictures are not the best for everything but can be helping for advertising or marketing notes. These are able to tell a story connecting big ideas and concepts for better engagement. It is also said that info retention increases by 29 percent.

All in all

Writing in general is known to help retain information. It is best to try a series of methods to figure out what works best for you and your tasks.


Staff Writer, Taylor Leddin is a publicist and freelance writer for a number of national outlets. She was featured on Thrive Global as a successful woman in journalism, and is the editor-in-chief of The Tidbit. Taylor resides in Chicago and has a Bachelor in Communication Studies from Illinois State University.

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