There have been a few times over the years when I happened to observe a newly hired team member in training, listening without taking notes. For me, that always raised a red flag.
When you’re new, how can you expect to do your job correctly without referring to notes? On the flip side, new team members who take notes give me confidence that they will catch on quickly and make minimal errors.
Note-taking may seem a little “old school”, but it has staying power for a reason: it has its benefits in business and in life. People who habitually take notes are more successful, whether they take notes with pen and paper, by typing into their smartphone or speaking into a recorder or recording app. When I attend an event, I walk out of it with several pages of notes.
If you haven’t cultivated a habit of taking notes, here are nine compelling reasons why you should:
- Easier Prioritization. Too much information coming at you? Having a hard time taking that next step because you’re not sure what it should be? Taking notes can help you focus on your options and whittle down your to-do list to only your top priority items. That is what I do after attending an event. Within 24 hours (most times I do this on the return flight), I will narrow down my notes into five to ten bigger ideas that I want to implement.
- Making a Better Client Impression. Every client likes to feel that they’re important to you and that they have your full attention. While you might think that taking notes could make you appear distracted, it actually has the opposite effect with most people. Because you’re making notes about their issues, they will feel that you’re taking their challenges seriously. They will assume that you’ll eventually consult those notes in an earnest effort to solve their problems. And you will, because they will give you better recall.
- Capturing Ideas. Having a conversation or a brainstorming session can generate great ideas, but those ideas won’t be worth much if you can’t remember them.
- Inspiring Action. There’s something about being able to read a recap of your ideas that inspires action. Reading your notes after that lively conversation or ingenious brainstorming session will rekindle enthusiasm and prompt you to take concrete steps to make your ideas a reality.
- Better Reading Comprehension and Recall. Reading is a habit of the world’s most successful people – but active reading with note-taking will give you a true winner’s edge. Not only will notes help you review the key points of the material quickly, but the process of taking notes aids in a better understanding of what you’re reading and helps you remember it later.
- Improving Focus. Taking notes requires full engagement in the source of information, whether it’s an instructor, a presenter, a book, or a one-on-one conversation. You will be less likely to be distracted. Additionally, building a regular habit of note-taking enhances our ability to focus in all areas of life.
- Filtering Information. If you’ve ever taken a speed-reading course, you know that it’s possible to train your brain to quickly filter the information it takes in, retaining what’s important and letting the rest go. Note-taking can have a similar effect, conditioning you to accumulate only the most beneficial information and eliminate brain clutter and overwhelm.
- Asking Smarter Questions. We already know that note-taking improves our attention and focus. By doing so, we also develop more clarity in our thought process. That clarity helps us more readily identify gaps in our understanding, allowing us to ask smarter questions – and smarter questions lead to richer conversations and better insights.
- Achieving More. The fact is, people who take notes achieve more. This is because as our goals reveal themselves in our notetaking, they feel more manageable and achievable. They are less abstract and more “doable”. Plus, our notetaking naturally opens our minds to the “how-to” aspect of our goals, revealing concrete action steps.
Have I convinced you to practice note-taking?
You’ll want to choose a manner of note-taking that works best for you.
If you’re a fan of pen and paper, start with a clean, dedicated notebook.
Some people use note-taking apps and software. The simplest form of notetaking app is the “Notes” app that comes preloaded on Apple smartphones. It’s essentially a digital notebook that you can type into that allows you to name and save each file. Other folks are devotees of mind mapping or organizing software that offer better options for organizing notes.
I have a friend who swears by his ReMarkable tablet, which is a digital notebook with a screen
surface that mimics paper. You write on it with a stylus, but the device provides computer-like
features that allow for organization, changing “paper” type and more.
What CPA practice owner wouldn’t want the edge that note-taking brings?
Sharpen your brain, enrich your store of knowledge and even improve your relationships with the power of notes! 📝📝📝