Take notes when someone is talking to you.
My wife has figured out the wonder of writing with the “Honey-Do” list that she jots down for me at home. I see the list, I know the chores that need to be done, and I do them. Most people in life won’t go quite that far for you, so be prepared to take the notes yourself.
The advantage of taking notes can’t be emphasized enough. When you take notes, it shows people that you're listening, helps you to recall things, ramps up your brain activity and makes you smarter in the long run. Overall, you improve your performance by just doing a simple thing - taking notes.
Note taking shows that you want to work to be an active listener. In fact, you're doing more than listening. You care so much about what’s being said that you're willing to convert listening into an activity focused solely on what the speaker is communicating. You have a strong desire to get it right, and you're going to work hard to get it right. It shows you care about and respect what others have to say.
Taking notes also helps you learn faster and remember things more thoroughly. Writing things down allows you to secure a particular moment and get it rooted in your brain. You're creating an internal and external file. Not only are you getting the moment down as information on paper, but you’re also making a memory as you review and store important information internally. With the external file, your notes, you're creating a future opportunity to reinforce what you initially learned.
It’s not too late if you've never been a note taker. Writing notes is a workout for your brain! You can actually grow gray matter when you master a fine motor skill or when you start a new motor activity. Some people are born with genius, but you can harness smarts for yourself if you're willing to put your brain to work in a new way.
Note taking is most effective if you use bullet points. You don't have to get every single word the boss says, all you need to do is to get the gist of it. A quick phrase will do. Bullet points bundle up the whole idea like a zip file on a computer. When you go back to it, the bullet point unlocks more of what you heard earlier. This study and review will take information and turn it into knowledge.
Strategize and take notes in all aspects of your life—family, health, spirituality, and business. If you want to be a better spouse, write down how you're going to do that. If you want to lose some weight, write down your current weight, your target weight, a reasonable timeframe for the amount you want to lose, and write down the formula for reaching your goal. Maybe you want to develop yourself spiritually and you think volunteer work will help you do that. Jot down places to help, and set a date to make it happen. Do you want to start your own business? Start writing out your business plan.
You have thoughts and dreams about achievements, but those achievements will go unrealized if you don't take those dreams and put them down in a tangible form. Writing notes is how a dream or thought becomes something that's less abstract and more concrete—it becomes a goal!
If you're married to your hand-held device or laptop, you're not going to experience the same benefits. Technology makes effort and work really easy which is exactly why it has exploded in popularity. However, these activities aren’t as good for the mind. If you refuse to toss technology out of the equation, then take notes by hand and physically transfer them to a notepad application on your phone. Doing this becomes one more occasion when you're physically handling and processing the information.
I know the value of going “old school”: I have a chronicle of my life since 1999 using day planners. Volume upon volume holds the highlights of each day—week after week, month after month, year after year. I know what appointments I've had, the people I've met, the ideas I've had, where I've been, and what I did.
I suggest you go buy a pack of 3 X 5 index cards. A good-sized pack will cost you only a dollar or so and believe me, it’s worth the investment. Every day, carry a couple of these cards in your pocket along with a pen. When someone begins to give you some thoughts, ideas, or directions, simply pull out your cards and pen and begin taking notes.
If you think you can correctly remember every single thing that you're told, you're only fooling yourself. Our brains are wired to dump a lot of our short term memory. Your brain will discard what you hear if you don't do the required work to make it stick for the long term. Take a piece of information and somehow use it, or you will lose it.
And for your own good, “Take notes when I’m talking to you!”
Take Notes - by Restaurant Expert Witness – Howard Cannon