There is something about writing on paper, that even me – a professed gadget geek, can’t get away from. I’m more engaged in meetings writing on paper rather than on an iPad. I am more economical with words. And I can add illustrations very easily.
So, with the amount of paper notes, ideas and minutes I generate, I quickly found a way for me to more easily process the contents into my task and reference management tool(s). I explain in this blog the notations I use to process all my paper notes.
Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com
Each notation indicates the type of action or information on the paper. There are several notations and I show them in the screen shot below.
When each item is processed, the action taken is recorded as either a cross (X), checkmark ( √), or arrow ( →).
- The cross means the item is no longer relevant. (Yes, this can happen even during the course of one business day!).
- The checkmark means the item has already been done either prior to the processing, or as a two-minute action during the processing.
- The arrow means it has been transferred to my task and/or reference system.
The fact that each item has an cross, checkmark or arrow, means that the entire paper has been processed. The paper can now be stored as reference in the appropriate folder.
There are a few variations that have evolved from the basic list shown above.
- Ticklers for example are indicated with a circle and small subscript “T” to the right of the circle. A tickler of course would include the date in the note.
- And, while I start each new meeting on a separate page with the agenda icon, I also use a shorter version of the agenda notation with just one bullet point and line, to indicate a new topic within the same meeting, or a series of conversations.
There is one other notation that fits directly into my workflow for that day. It is an exclamation point.
The exclamation is point is used if the item needs to be completed that day … or at least before the next time I think I am going to get to process all my notes. I refer to these notes when there is unscheduled time in the workday. I quickly scan my notes for any exclamation point items, as well as look at my &0_Today list to determine what is priority.
The notations can be used to review reports, articles, or any other printed documentation. No need now to reread comments made when reviewing documents to determine which ones are your actions or someone else’s action.
Do you use any special notations when taking notes or reviewing documents?