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Note Taking Formats

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  • Note Taking Formats

    I saw this the other day and I was fascinated by how Bill Gates takes notes...

    ...The other thing I noticed during the course of the meeting is how he takes his notes. He doesn't take notes from top-to-bottom, but rather logically divides the page into quadrants, each reserved for a different thought. For example, it appeared that all his questions were placed at the bottom of the page...

    I'm wondering does anyone else do this? And if so, how do you divide up your quadrants?

    Currently I take notes from Top-Down and sometimes I may miss some points when I'm processing these notes in my Weekly Review.

    (Linky: )

  • #2
    What???? He didn't use a tablet pc running OneNote???


    • #3
      I frequently mindmap notes on just about anything, including meetings. I've been doing it for almost 20 years, and obviously, YMMV; but it works very well for me. I also adapt my notetaking style to the meeting. Basic staff meeting notes are often linear, b/c I've learned there will be no more than 1 side of a page of info, much less actionable items. I then march down the list asap after the meeting and note disposition of each action (e.g., "added to project list").Mindmaps would have each main topic as a "branch" and actionable items actually stand out pretty well.

      Those unfamiliar w/ mindmap can search w/ google. Tony Buzan is perhaps the most well-known authority.



      • #4

        yeah, isn't that interesting? Considering that OneNote was suppose to be his pet project! lol


        • #5
          Reminds me that they caught microsoft with linux running their servers...LOL


          • #6
            Smart BillG & Microsoft

            BillG and Microsoft are smart and we should follow them. If you want to be as successful as Bill do not use any software or tablet pc for notetaking. Paper is more reliable so you can focus on your notes and do not need to keep your equipment alive (dead battery, not enough memory, general protection error, infected disc and so on, and so on, and so on, day after day...)


            • #7
              Note taking

              I do different things depending on my mood:

              1) Take notes in mindmap format but leave room on the side margins to write questions. Box those questions. After the meeting, tackle the questions first and then mark through them as I accomplish them. Or, transfer them to a post-it or context list, depending on time frame.

              2) turn the paper landscape-wise. draw a line down one side to make a 2 or 3 inch margin. take notes in the 'big box' as usual (mindmap or however you want) and then write questions, notes to yourself, whatever in the margin.

              BillG's notetaking style sounds pretty savvy, actually. It recognizes that several different processes occur during a meeting, and his notetaking style has a place to notate each process.



              • #8
                Note Taking Formats

                At one stage I used a quadrant type approach.

                I now use this approach

                Small margin over left hand side. Big margin over right hand side. Lots of space in the middle.

                I make notes as I go from top to bottom in the middle. I annotate the notes with indicators for Actions/Decisions.

                In the right hand margin I write questions as they occur to me. This is so that I can refer back to them during the meeting at appropriate times - without having to interrupt whoever might be speaking just so that I don't forget something.

                I found the quadrant type approach restrictive because I like to make lots of notes and you don't have anywhere to go once the quadrant is filled.


                • #9
                  thanks for sharing your ideas. I'm going to try out various formats & techniques over the next few weeks.

                  I know this topic seems silly and I may be overcomplicating things (they're just notes for crying out loud!!!) but well, I guess this is just one area I need to work on. Thanks again!


                  • #10
                    I'm finding this very interesting as well, and I think I will try out phoulihan's method. Thanks for sharing.


                    • #11
                      Note taking formats

                      Is there any info anywhere on the quadrant approach... ? what goes into each quadrant?

                      Phoulihan-- what do you put in Left margin?


                      • #12
                        Re: Note taking formats

                        Originally posted by Anonymous
                        Is there any info anywhere on the quadrant approach... ? what goes into each quadrant?

                        Phoulihan-- what do you put in Left margin?
                        The left margin is where I put a quick indicator that refers to the notes in the body of the page. I usually use an indicator for Actions/Decision/Ideas - but it sort of depends on the context.

                        I also vary the indicator over time just to keep myself interested. Currently an action is a big A with a circle around it. But I went through a phase of using the Greek alphabet (alpha for action, delta for decision,...) and sometimes I just use a made up doodle - anything to keep me interested.

                        Then I can quickly write up formal actions/decisions as minutes if required. Or on a daily basis just go back and process actions (into projects/next actions) or waiting ons,... It also makes it much easier for my assistant to process if I'm in a hurry and just need to throw it to her.

                        Hope this helps.

                        It is a long time since I used the quadrant approach - I think I learnt it at some long ago induction to management training. I think it was have a quadrant each for actions/questions/decisions/notes - but I may have got the headings wrong.


                        • #13
                          joke right?

                          you gotta be kidding you folks are putting thought time into "how to take notes"?


                          • #14
                            Of course we do... I find that the way I take notes can make quite a difference on how effective I am later when processing them etc. Sometimes giving thought to seemingly futile and simple things can yield quite big returns. And sharing and discussing in a forum of like-minded but unique people often opens new horizons. In Dutch we have a proverb "Wie 't kleine niet eert, is 't grote niet weerd" (He who doesn't honor the small things isn't worthy of the big ones)...



                            • #15
                              Phoulihan: THank you for your comments....

                              I appreciate insights on the little things. even if others are skeptical.
                              hoping to one day be worthy of bigger things