As back to school week wraps up, I can’t help but think of one last lesson that we learn in school but quickly abandon in “real world”; the lost art of note taking.

When I was in school, I hated taking notes. To be fair, I hated pretty much everything about school outside of lunch time, but I really hated taking notes. I even had a teacher who graded our notes in one class. Needless to say, I did not do well. What I did not appreciate then that I so totally understand now is that note taking is a skill that can put us back in control and help us better manage our day. I hated it in school, but I can’t live without it today.

Here are some hacks that I found that make my note taking most effective. Accept what works and reject what doesn’t.

In A Meeting, Always Ask Permission

On its face, this seems like just the polite thing to do and if that were the only reason, it would be good enough. When someone sits across from us writing as we speak, its only natural to wonder what they’re writing, asking permission is a courteous way to begin. But wait…there’s more. When we ask permission to take notes, we’re calling attention to the fact that we’re doing it. It’s a subtle way to remind the person we’re speaking with that we value our conversation enough to document it. It’s a powerful technique to let others know we’re listening and that we care.

When The Thought Comes, Write It Down

Maybe I’m strange, but when I’m in a meeting, my mind is usually always prompted to solve another problem by the seemingly unrelated conversation. OK, yes, I am definitely strange, but I don’t think this is the reason. The problem is, if I don’t make a note when these thoughts occur, I will probably lose them forever. Instead of suppressing the thought, I make the note and box it off so that I know it’s unrelated to the rest of the notes, but I’ve captured it so that I can act on it.

Find a System That Works

I have friends that cannot live without paper and pens. I have others who swear by Evernote. I prefer Google Keep, but it really doesn’t matter how we do it as long as do it. There is a lot of value in actually writing things down but there’s also value to those us with poor handwriting to use an electronic device. The key to finding what works for you and make it work.

Were back to school and back to awesome. Keeping in mind the great lessons that we’ve learned and opportunity to ride the momentum of the second new year, we can’t help but finish 2017 strong.

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