Effective Note Taking Skills

December 2, 2019

According to Richard Branson 99 percent of people in leadership roles don’t take notes.

Many of us take notes in meetings and never go back to read them again.

The more you are organized in your notes, the better.

Note-taking allows you to develop a deeper understanding of the topic or the project you are working one and allows you to capture the key points in your own words.

Taking note is not just useful for our own organization but a real tool for teamworking and moving forward on projects

taking note at work

 The different methods to take notes

Here is a list of easy ways to take your notes:

The Cornell Method

In the Cornell method, it requires to divide your note page into 4 ,or sometimes only 3, different sections : Two columns, one area at the bottom of the page, and one smaller area at the top of the page.

On the left you write keywords or headings like questions about the notes that can be answered when reviewing or comments, and take your notes on the right. On the Bottom highlights a brief summary for your meeting 

This method is useful for lectures because it is easy to find the information you need when revising your notes.

The Mind-Map Method

Mind Map is a type of graphic method to take your notes. Mind Maps allow you to create a visual representation of ideas and concepts on any particular topic.

This is usefull for brainstorming as they engage participants in whole brain thinking

The linear method (outlining)

The Linear method is the process of writing down information in the order in which you receive it. The linear method is one of the most common and popular methods. 

You can use headings and subheadings to structure ideas and use indentations and different bullet formats to show the difference between main ideas and supporting ideas/examples. The use of indentation and graphic bullets also helps to make the information more visual and quickly identify the action to be done. This note organization in a structured form, helps you saving a lot of time for further note reviewing and editing.


This method use several columns, similar to a table or spreadsheet to make your notes. You have separate columns for main points, questions, details etc. This method involves you classifying your information so you can easily access it. 

The charting method of taking notes is good when you need to place related information into different categories, arrange information in a certain order or when you want to compare the relationships between different ideas.

As you may have noticed, each method has advantages depending on the situation. There is no one right way to take notes. So choose the right method according to your needs or the meeting purpose :

– A brainstorm : use the mind-map method 

– One-to-one meeting, project committee, business meeting , the linear method is more appropriate

The Journal of Reading compared different methods to take your notes and found that the most rigorously structured one was the hierarchal ordering and numbered subsections were of the highest quality and accuracy. – …. 

Taken notes Tips

  • Write down only key facts :a meeting note is not a written transcription of everything that was said during the meeting. The whole point is to be able to summarize information in a different, shorter form to be use later 
  • Organize directly your notes when you type. Keep notes for each subject in one place so you can find everything easily
  • Identify what is important : Listen and look for key phrases such as ‘the most important factor is …’, ‘In summary, we decide to …’ which is like a red signal telling you that this is an important thing to note for the rest of your project.
    • Action Items : the most important part and the foundation to keep everyone aligned and moving forward and create your team reference . A sentence that can be resumed by “ Action to be realize  …. by …  for due-date.”
    • Decisions  : Many meetings get lost in details of items and decisions that have already been discussed. Your notes should therefore clearly define the outcome of the discussion and decision that was acquired during the meeting by the group. “In summary, we decide to …’
    • Requirements/Specifications : Likewise, it is important to identify requirements that arise during discussion. Centralize them in your notes so that all contributors are well informed and aware of them. 

If you need more information on how to write your meeting notes, you can read this article here.


The Best Way to take notes

Pen & Paper? white sheet, notebook, notepad …is a ideal for integrating diagrams or drawings into your meeting minutes and quickly jotting down everything comes in the meeting. If the best way to take notes was the most used way to do so, pen & paper notes would be the best note-taking method by far: 90% of professionals take notes with pen & paper.

Fortunately or not, there is not a best way : taking notes on paper can very quickly become unmanageable for task tracking and information management.
Most of the time in business, notes are a mean to transfer an information from another tool like a Project Management software, a database, etc. and when it is not, giving our own notes or even a photocopy of it to someone isn’t, obviously, a common practice.
Therefore, Handwritten notes has often to be digitized afterwards, which is Time-consuming and adding no added-value to a Business.

Digital Note is answering to many limitations of Handwriting.
More precisely, Digital Notes enables a further use of them way more convenient and effective. You can easily search, index, tag and sort your Notes.

You can use a tool (like Evernote or OneNote) that digitizes your paper notes and allows you to easily find information with a search modules in your digital notes. These tools are useful to easily find your information, but they do not address the task follow-up issue. You will always have to retranslate your To-do list in a task management tool to ensure the follow-up. The last method is to use a digital tool that allows you to take your notes and structure them in type directly in your notes to identify what is an action or a remark. A digital tool that allow you to collect all the important meeting information for your task and project management

On the other hand, don’t let your digital note-taking tool distract you. Choose a tool that lets you take notes like on paper without structuring. Formatting and structuring will have plenty of time to be done at the end of the meeting.


Thanks to Beesy taking notes has never been so easy.


  • Your notes have Topics, Participants and Task items,
  • Task items will enable you to easily structure your notes while you type and to create an automatic to-list to follow
  • Draw or picture capture all your brainstorm during the meeting
  • Many Note-taking way : a no-structured email, with a pencil in your iPad, directly in Beesy Digital note-taking Tool
  • A all-in-one tool to manage your meeting from minutes to task and project management 

Life Hacks, Tips and Tricks 

Last of art to take notes

28/05/15- “Recovering The Lost Art Of Note Taking” via MichaelHyatt
“I spend most of my work-life in meetings. Note-taking is a survival skill. Yet, I am surprised at how few people bother to take notes in meetings. Those who do sometimes express frustration at how ineffective the exercise seems to be…”

the best way to take your notes

29/05/15 – “One Old-Tech Secret For High Achievers” via MichaelHyatt
“Everyone knows I geek out when it comes to new technology. But sometimes old tech is the best tech, and that goes for taking notes…”

Effective Note Taking Skills at Work

01/06/15 – “Taking notes? Bring a Pen, skip the Computer” via BostonGlobe
“JUST ABOUT EVERY professor has complained about students with screens in front of them flitting over to Facebook or Tumblr instead of listening to a lecture. But, those distractions aside, it’s hard to blame the kids for wanting to type their notes instead of write them out longhand. Think of how much quicker you can type an e-mail than write a letter: Digital note-taking is simply easier…”

lessons for a professional note taker

02/06/15 – “Lessons From a Professional Note Taker” via Inc.

“Every meeting involves taking notes. Some notes cloud your thinking, others help you remember, and the best allow you to generate new ideas and uncover new insights. I sat down with professional note taker Mathias Jakobsen to get some tips on how we can up our note-taking game and think more clearly…”

taking note

Updated February 09, 2019 – “The Importance of Note Taking Skills” via theclassroom
“Effective listening, clear handwriting, organized outlines and recording of key points are among the most critical note taking skills. Students can often work with guidance counselors or certain instructors to improve skills. …”

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