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How do you take notes is up to you, but there are a few ways you can improve your notes taking to improve their effectiveness, here are a few that I find useful and try to encorporate in my daily notes taking routine (work/study).

1. Ask the right questions

Before writing any note down start by asking a question of what this note of text is going to answer when your future self read it. Make the question as naive as possible and try to answer it as if you're explaining something to a five year old. This is called Feynman technique of understanding/explaining a problem set.

2. Pay attention

This is something I struggle with as I had ADHD (I know) but I try to pay attention as much as I can to what is being discussed and which question are we trying to answer while discussing something specially in team meetings. Paying attention is vital for doing anything specially taking notes.

The best way to pay attention is to be genuinely curious about the problem at hand. There is always something to learn from a discussion you're having, and not just in your field and not just in that thing that you think you’re studying, but all those things that are peripheral to the field you’re studying OR fixing OR building.

You get the point, right?

3. Cornel method

This is related to the first point I made which is to ask a question before writing any note down. Starting with a question will help you with two things,

(1) When you go back to the note you took (which is all it is about) you'll have a context of what you wrote and the note will make more sense, and

(2) Starting with a question (prefereably in a shape of a toggled list) will help you memorise the answer because it will stimulate your memory muscle.

Which is what Cornel method of notes taking is all about.

Example notes I took in a mentorship meeting

4. Think like a therapist

One way to being curious about a problem set and people you're dealing with, and asking the right question to unsurface more information is to think like a therapist.  A therapist job is to ask a question in a certain way that helps other people express them selves in a better way.

What are some of the things a therapist would say?

  1. “What are you thinking?”
  2. “What are you looking at?”
  3. “What are you doing now?”
  4. “Is that what you expected to happen?”
  5. “Was there something in particular that made you think that?”
  6. “How do you think it would work?”
  7. “What are you trying to do now?”

5. Revisit

After taking any notes, always revisit and try to think of a way to add more to these notes. Remember, when ever you write something chances are that the first draft is always going to suck. Revisit is crutial when you want to take effective notes.