…and not mental ones!
How often do you grab a pen and paper or open your smartphone’s open writing feature to take notes? During meetings? During important phone calls? Or just to jot down the odd reference number never to be seen again? The truth is, none of us take notes often enough and yet with the busy, bustling modern lives we all now live, this leaves us with more room for error than ever before; which, particularly in our professional lives, is something that just isn’t acceptable. But how can taking more notes help? This blog explains all, so read on and give it a go.
It lowers your stress levels
We all lead busy lives and are juggling priorities, responsibilities and things we actually want to achieve on a daily basis. It’s all too common for us to wake up in the middle of the night and remember something we should have done the day before; but it’s not healthy, especially for our mental wellbeing.
Taking notes throughout your day of thoughts, errands and ‘to-do’ items will greatly reduce the risk of you forgetting to do something that’s important or making a mistake when referring back to something that happened previously. Instead, everything will be written down and ready to check back on as accurately as you noted it. Of course, this won’t eliminate your stresses and anxieties completely: but every little helps!
It buys you more time and boosts productivity
Fact checking and going back for clarification on things may cost you just a few minutes each day, but it all adds up – and it puts you on the back foot in actually getting things done. Instead, having details noted down somewhere you can access them easily after any event allows you to take relevant information with you and instead crack on with any actions to be taken right away.
The impact on your time management and productivity will be noticeable and the change you need to take to make it happen is small… just a quick note! OK, so you may still have something else to do thereafter, but it’s one less thing to get done.
It will help you with ‘blue sky thinking’
Ever had that feeling where you’ve left a meeting or event where you’ve taken in a lot of information and feel a bit like you can’t handle anything else in your head? You probably can’t and need to take some time out to re-calibrate yourself from such heavy concentration and mental exertion.
Knowing that you’ve got something written down for later referral can take a weight off your mind and give you the mental space to focus on other things – including getting creative and doing some ‘free’ thinking without the constraints of having to remember lots of other information. Who knows what you might start to create, design or action when you have room to think more?
It helps you prioritise
Once you have time to focus and to spend on working through, typing it or clearing up your notes, you can begin to formulate a to-do list and to put all the things you have to do in some kind of order. While you’re writing your list, include time constraints for each and try to break them down into small, manageable chunks so that you can see your progress even on the biggest and most complex of projects.
Working out your true priorities helps ensure you don’t get misled or mistaken into spending unnecessary time or resources on anything that doesn’t need it and will help you focus on the most important things first. You’ll be whizzing through your to-do list faster than ever before and more importantly, more efficiently!
If you find it helps, list items into SMART targets. Each task should be made specific (for accountability), measurable (so you know when it’s actually complete), achievable (because otherwise, there’s no point!), relevant (to your workload/life, otherwise it may be unnecessary) and time constrained (so you force yourself to do it in or by a set time).
Of course, while the prospect of a shiny new notebook and pen may seem exciting, notes don’t have to be taken in the traditional way all the time. If you’re a smartphone or device addict, download a note-taking app and start using it. If you’re forgetful, post-it notes with short sentences or even just words stuck to household items can help prompt memories. If your only spare time is in the shower, invest in waterproof Aqua Notes to write down what you can while you’re washing. Once you’ve found a note-taking method that works for you, stick with it and see how your productivity, time management and mental wellbeing improves over time.
There’ll never be an awkward moment with a boss over a forgotten action point or a misread conversation again; and you’ll be well on your way to developing a reputation for efficiency, accuracy and diligence!