Underwater Fish

fish

Ideas are fluid and mercurial things. I have a bad habit of writing down two or three words and then not remembering what I was intending to say or do with that information. And I’m not alone. In looking over notes that people take during meetings and at events, I’m constantly struck with the realization that the person will have no idea why they wrote something down by the time they get back to the office. Further, some of these ideas end up being a lot more abstract until such time as you flesh them out, so that the most abstract information won’t make much sense without your efforts to clean it up.

Underwater Fish

I used the words “underwater fish” as an example of when I did that to myself recently. Those two words were in my notepad for some reason. Underwater. Fish. Only, without periods, so that it says “underwater fish.” I have no idea why it says this. Perhaps I was going to write about superfluous words. Of course fish are underwater. Or maybe I was going to talk about the difference between a fish on a plate and a fish underwater. Frankly, I’ve got no idea. It’s lost to the ether. But in that, there are some thoughts.

There’s More Than One Kind of Note

In your business, there are ideas that must be communicated and executed against all the time. Note taking and idea capture isn’t supposed to be arduous, but it must be useful enough to take an action. How can you write down information such that it helps you bring your ideas forward?

First, there are more than one kind of note:

  • Reference ideas – these are notes like “The bridge over the Colorado River by Hoover Dam is 1900 feet high.” Those are for reference.
  • Action ideas – “Call state highway department and report a big hole in the bridge.”
  • Reminder ideas – “Boss’s birthday. Buy ticket to bridge by Hoover Dam.”

There are probably many more. Diagram comes to mind. Timelines are a kind of note you might take. You might have others. But realizing that there’s more than one kind of note lets us think about how we might capture information different for each one.

Improve Your Idea Capture

Methods for note taking and idea capture vary plenty. Here’s my way. It’s not necessarily right. It’s just mine.

Note Taking

In my notebooks, I tend to break things into 3 sections. I use the bulk of every page for reference notes and drawings. I use the right sidebar for off-topic ideas and/or for follow-up items not related to the main notes. I use the bottom of every page to capture action steps (to use Scott Belsky’s words).

In capturing action steps, I use the method laid out in Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality (amazon affiliate link). My plan is to make sure that anything that needs doing gets conveyed the moment we leave the meeting, so that people can take actions and get things going at the soonest possible.

Belsky’s book says “start with a verb” when lining out action steps. This really helps. Also, if the action has an owner that’s not you, convey that action step to that owner and keep it on your list too, so that you can follow up with people.

Digital Note Taking

I use paper for most of my idea capture, but if ever I need to share it in the digital space, I use Evernote. It’s free and works on your desktop, your mobile device, and the web, so it’s very flexible. You can take notes directly into Evernote, or you can just take photos of your notes and put them there, too. With recent updates to Evernote, you can even share the notes with people, should that be useful for collaboration.

If you want a similar-but-different way to do it, check out the Livescribe Pen, which I think makes for a great tool as well.

Then What. Then What.

My secret sauce is this: ask the question “then what” incessantly when taking notes. Use this to flesh out your notes so that you have all the ideas and action steps necessary to complete the project. It’s a swell way to get yourself through to the completion of the project, if you think about it.

Your Methods

How do YOU capture notes? What are you doing with them? Have you run into any underwater fish?

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  • http://www.facebook.com/jenniferfong Jennifer Linnell Fong

    Great post Chris! Another thing I’ll do, especially when blog ideas come while I’m on the go, is use the voice recorded on my phone. I’ll record my idea much quicker than if I tried to write it down, and then email it to myself with a subject that gives a high level overview of the idea. I have a folder in Outlook specifically for blog ideas, and file all those emails I send to myself there. Then when I’m ready to write it, the idea is there ready and waiting.

    I like your ideas for fleshing out the ideas too. Will have to try that.

    Cheers!

    • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan

      Great idea, Jennifer. Pretty neat way to do it. But then I have to go back and hit play and hit rewind and hit play etc. Doesn’t that take longer?

      • http://jenfongspeaks.com Jennifer Fong

        Heh. Maybe your thoughts are deeper than mine. :) Pretty much one time through does it for me.

  • http://www.experiate.net Paul Flanigan

    I’m a notebook person like you, Chris. Funny to watch you use a layout, because I never had luck with that. I would change the layout about once a month because it wasn’t working. Then I would be confused as all heckbeans as to what was important!

    I do two things that have worked for me. First, I use shapes to outline things. For example, I’m working on a presentation I’m going to give in August. Every time I come up with an idea or thought for it, I outline it with a rectangle. For a current client I have, I use triangles.

    For blog post ideas, I use Evernote. I have all my devices connected to my account, so I can just drop things there. The key with Evernote (right now, at least) is that I don’t use it for anything else, so it’s all blog.

    From there, I can edit/add/delete as I see fit.

    And I have a veritable zoo of phrases and keywords that, for the life of me, I cannot seem to remember adding.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan

      Oh, I didn’t say the layout would be there in the next few months. : )

      Interesting about your idea of triangles and rectangles. Quite interesting.

      You’ve got me thinking.

      • http://www.experiate.net Paul Flanigan

        Be sure to think out loud!

    • http://ClimbingEveryMountain.com Mary E. Ulrich

      There is a whole symbolic language for chart shorthand. ie. a triangle represents top/down pyramid thinking of most businesses (colored in brown). anything having to do with money is in a green dollar sign….

      • http://www.experiate.net Paul Flanigan

        For me it’s much more about organization of thoughts/ideas, than shorthand. For example, I would put the dollar sign next to an idea that represents a business venture. I am always a touch leery about getting too deep into shorthand for fear that I’ll forget all the symbols.

        Remember that little activity when we were all kids, where you put the square block through the square hole, circular block through the circular hole? That pretty much stuck with me forever. Ahhh. . . the simple things!

  • Dasnyder1

    Ver nice post Chris. When I am working on blog and I callaborate with a buddy on a post we may use GoogleDocs while we Skype to flesh out our ideas. It is sort of like we are both looking at the same chalk board/white board. My college professors were GoogleDocs addicts so I am kind of addicted to it too.

    That said, I am on my way to checking out some of your recommended sites, new stuff means a new point of view! Thanks Man!

    • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan

      That’s how Julien Smith and I wrote Trust Agents. : )

  • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan

    I’ve used the voice note, but similar to what I asked Jen, doesn’t that end up taking a while to translate later?

  • http://www.bdb.org/index.php?submenu=bdb_board&src=gendocs&ref=board_of_directors_pics&category=the_bdb Pepe Fenjul Jr.

    yes correct there are ideas that must be communicated and executed against all the time. Note taking and idea capture isn’t supposed to be arduous, but it must be useful enough to take an action.

  • http://twitter.com/NancyD68 Nancy Davis

    This is something I am really struggling with right now. I sometimes print random cool things I find, and then forget what I liked about them.

    My boss wants six posts a day from me, so I need to do a much better job with taking notes. I am going to try evernote. I have been using legal pads and that only works sometimes.

    I need something more structured. This was a great help.

  • http://www.margieclayman.com Marjorie Clayman

    Now, see, what I would have done is saved that for my April Fool’s blog topics e-newsletter. As follows:

    Hi, I’m Chris Brogan, and this week, I’m going to toss you a super easy topic to wax poetical about. It’s *obvious* how one could write a plethora of posts about underwater fish. The concept. The glory. In fact, I’m starting a whole series. No! A whole company! Just around these 2 words.

    Can’t wait to see what brilliance you can manufacture from this outstandingly simple prompt.

    Happy April Fool’s Day!

    I mean, don’t get me wrong, what you came up with is pretty good, too. I just…well, okay. I’m leaving now.

  • http://www.coryscomments.com Cory Hintz

    Nice picture Chris.

    I also use Evernote. I use it all the time. The sync feature between my desktop, iPhone and iPad works great. I also like that I am able to tag different meetings and then search on them later.

    I liked your idea regarding the section for action items. I seem to take a lot of notes but sometimes have trouble with the action steps afterwards.

  • http://thoughtsaboutnothing.com @kylereed

    I use a little red moleskin notebook that goes with me everywhere.
    I write ideas, thoughts and action steps in it all day. It is literally my brain.
    I use to think I had a great memory, but I have so much going on that I forget a lot of stuff.

    The best thing for me is to write every idea, thought and meeting down. Then I review my notebook everyday, 3 times a day. first thing in the morning, lunch time, and then before I go to bed. I scratch off things I have done, write new goals, and action steps for the next day.

    That is my method

    • http://www.ricardobueno.com Ricardo Bueno

      Love it and love my moleskine! Only started using it as of recent (November, December) but like you, it goes with me everywhere I go now and I jot notes like a madman. Post ideas, project outlines, webinar outlines. It’s all in there. Digital is cool (and useful), but sometimes, writing it all out with a good ol’ fashioned pen and paper helps me think better.

      • http://thoughtsaboutnothing.com @kylereed

        that is interesting as well, because I try all the digital time management and project management stuff and just cannot do it. I lose track of things and often forget to check them. I need to be able to write things down and then check them off my list.

      • http://thoughtsaboutnothing.com @kylereed

        that is interesting as well, because I try all the digital time management and project management stuff and just cannot do it. I lose track of things and often forget to check them. I need to be able to write things down and then check them off my list.

        • http://www.ricardobueno.com Ricardo Bueno

          Yep, it’s easy to lose track… You open one tab then another, then another, etc.

          So I use WriteRoom (for mac) when I’m typing or I just write in the notebook :-)

      • http://thoughtsaboutnothing.com @kylereed

        that is interesting as well, because I try all the digital time management and project management stuff and just cannot do it. I lose track of things and often forget to check them. I need to be able to write things down and then check them off my list.

  • Anonymous

    I am a very chaotic note-taker … usually starting at about a 30° angle from the middle of the page, then filling in voids around the main part, linked with solid or dotted lines to other elements. If there’s something that I need to DO, I’ll have an arrow pointing to it of varying thickness, somewhat dependent on how “important” that action item is. If it’s of sufficient import to have been on a wholly separate note, I’ll have a box drawn around it. Of course, this would look like absolute chaos to anybody else looking at the piece of paper, but it lets me sort out what went through my head at the meeting/event!

    P.S.: Could “underwater” be in terms of mortgages? You could have been noting to explore businesses/assets that were currently significantly undervalued, as in “fish for things that are ‘underwater’”!

  • http://www.kherize5.com Suzanne Vara

    underwater fish. Interesting. I said fishing the other day but that would have probably had hook with it. I am a paper and pad person. I have papers and papers full of words that have arrows and words in the margins that make sense at the time but a week or so later I am left scratching my head wondering what I meant sometimes.

    I have tried recording but then I have to translate and that is just as hard sometimes as the words I write down.

    The good news is that I do have papers full of words. I am happy about that and I tell myself if it was worth remembering then it is good enough to flush out and write about.

    I did love the title as underwater fish – well they are always underwater. It just depends upon now confined they are -tank or ocean.

    • http://www.ricardobueno.com Ricardo Bueno

      Hey, you scratch your head and make funny faces at the chicken scratch you write in your notebook just like me! Hehe… :-)

      I’ve learned to date things (pages) in my moleskine notebook and I use red post-its to make sure I’m getting things that need to get done, done. I can’t do digital. Writing it out at the cafe or heck, even when I’m at my desk works best for me.

      • http://www.kherize5.com Suzanne Vara

        Ricardo

        I have gone so far to write a little note next to the words in red to have it stand out so that there is no way that I can forget and … well more head scratching and yes, of course the funny faces.

        I have some post drafts that have yet to be finished as they need more. I write ideas down on paper to go back in and try and finish some of them. I love red post its as they are a reminder to go back and make sure it gets done. I should try that.

        • http://www.ricardobueno.com Ricardo Bueno

          Don’t even get me started on “drafts” – I don’t wanna look at how many I got :-P

          As for the post-its… They work great. I blame Staples. I wanna buy everything (pens, hi-lighters, post-its, notebooks, ink ++) when I walk in there!

    • http://www.ricardobueno.com Ricardo Bueno

      Hey, you scratch your head and make funny faces at the chicken scratch you write in your notebook just like me! Hehe… :-)

      I’ve learned to date things (pages) in my moleskine notebook and I use red post-its to make sure I’m getting things that need to get done, done. I can’t do digital. Writing it out at the cafe or heck, even when I’m at my desk works best for me.

  • http://twitter.com/susangiurleo susangiurleo

    I’m trying this system with moderate success. I use one notebook for all ideas, and have folders for each project I’m working on. The theory is that I eventually pull the notes and get them into the right folder to keep organized. Of course, last night before bed I wrote a brilliant idea down on the cover of a magazine on my night stand and thankfully you wrote this post to remind me to get it off the magazine cover and into a folder….. : )

  • http://twitter.com/susangiurleo susangiurleo

    I’m trying this system with moderate success. I use one notebook for all ideas, and have folders for each project I’m working on. The theory is that I eventually pull the notes and get them into the right folder to keep organized. Of course, last night before bed I wrote a brilliant idea down on the cover of a magazine on my night stand and thankfully you wrote this post to remind me to get it off the magazine cover and into a folder….. : )

  • http://rickmanelius.com Rick Manelius

    Talk about timing. I had inspiration last night to write a quick post about the importance of journaling, note capturing, etc. You just saved me some time because now I can just refer.

    The underwater fish moment happens all the time to me when I dream journal. If I don’t write it down at all, it’s gone in less than 30 minutes. Write down what I think will be a launch point to the rest of the dream and I’m left with a confusing mess (‘egg timer found in the bar room’ seemed like a unique enough launch point to remember the rest!)

    I like evernote, but find myself having to adapt to different tools. Even in the digital world, I think best with a clipboard (I coached for 4 years—and that was an essential piece of equipment that rarely left my side).

  • http://rickmanelius.com Rick Manelius

    Talk about timing. I had inspiration last night to write a quick post about the importance of journaling, note capturing, etc. You just saved me some time because now I can just refer.

    The underwater fish moment happens all the time to me when I dream journal. If I don’t write it down at all, it’s gone in less than 30 minutes. Write down what I think will be a launch point to the rest of the dream and I’m left with a confusing mess (‘egg timer found in the bar room’ seemed like a unique enough launch point to remember the rest!)

    I like evernote, but find myself having to adapt to different tools. Even in the digital world, I think best with a clipboard (I coached for 4 years—and that was an essential piece of equipment that rarely left my side).

    • http://rickmanelius.com Rick Manelius

      PS. I really like the ‘then what’ mantra. It’s a more conscious prompting to what I occasionally do unconsciously… but would like to do it more consistently and hence I’ll be using this to achieve that end. Thanks

  • http://www.ricardobueno.com Ricardo Bueno

    My “underwater fish” looks like chicken scratch on the page. I scratch my head a little, say “huh” to myself and then flip to the next page.

    I’ve come to the realization that taking notes digitally makes it easy for me to forget things. Saving something for later reference on say “Delicious” – a good article – is different. What I mean is I can’t type out To Do’s, use notes on things like Evernote and my phone. Instead I have a moleskine notebook. I right the date on the upper right-hand side of a new page every day and I write things out like this:
    - DS Post: I write tentative post titles and bullet points under this for our company blog,
    - RB Post: the same process for my personal blog.

    As I read on-line or at the bookstore, I write quotes on the page and other ideas. Or I’ll draw a mindmap or something. For items that I NEED to take action on, I use one of those red post-it flags so that I know to get to it. And once I’ve written a post or acted on an idea, I revert back and cross a line through it with a red pen.

    When I’m typing, I use WriteRoom (mac) and sometimes, a timer. Helps me focus and cut out distractions. Oh, I do this while listening to techno or Cirque du Soleil tunes on Pandora. For some crazy reason that helps me concentrate… :-)

  • Anonymous

    Chris,

    I use a jr legal pad
    Email
    Toodledo
    Springpad

    and all of this is connected via

    My laptop and android phone

    When I am in a discussion on the phone or in a meeting I take linear notes on my jr legal pad

    General notes are simple bullets
    Tasks are indicated with a written version of this symbol ( )
    Ideas for down the road are indicted with a simple #! (searchable in springpad)

    As soon as I can after the engagement I type up the whole thing in an email and send it to my springpad account

    I extract and enter all tasks in the toodledo web interface or email or on my phone in that preferred order
    all actions follow the what, why, where, when format”
    Call Bob re: TPS report @Calls 12p 3/17/11 (of course it doesn’t look *exactly* like this in toodledo)

    Then I rip the page out of my legal pad and toss it.

    Good post btw

    PS Underwater Fish would be a cool name for a Ska band

    Tim

  • Anonymous

    Chris,

    I use a jr legal pad
    Email
    Toodledo
    Springpad

    and all of this is connected via

    My laptop and android phone

    When I am in a discussion on the phone or in a meeting I take linear notes on my jr legal pad

    General notes are simple bullets
    Tasks are indicated with a written version of this symbol ( )
    Ideas for down the road are indicted with a simple #! (searchable in springpad)

    As soon as I can after the engagement I type up the whole thing in an email and send it to my springpad account

    I extract and enter all tasks in the toodledo web interface or email or on my phone in that preferred order
    all actions follow the what, why, where, when format”
    Call Bob re: TPS report @Calls 12p 3/17/11 (of course it doesn’t look *exactly* like this in toodledo)

    Then I rip the page out of my legal pad and toss it.

    Good post btw

    PS Underwater Fish would be a cool name for a Ska band

    Tim

  • http://lifeincognito.com Rick Clemons

    I use good old fashioned composition books for notes and i have mini composition books stashed everywhere – by my bed, near the toilets, in the tv room, in my saddle pouch on my bike, in my gym bag.

    Those little books are just an extension of me. Then at the end of the day, I gather them consolidate, draw pictures if necessary and I am off to the races.

    For instance, i captured a pic on my phone of an apple core laying by the side of the road on my bike ride the other day, grabbed my mini comp book wrote a couple of notes and will soon be sending that blog post over to My Escape Velocity.

    Great post Chris and love the underwater fish title…would make a great restaurant name!

  • http://www.globalkap.com/ Tendering software

    Great article specially the title of your post “Underwater Fish”. You have provided some great insights about the subject. Ill consider your post in future projects…

  • http://www.andicrook.com Andrew Crook

    You note note taking methods are basically the Cornell note taking system or very similar.

  • http://stevenbuehler.info swbuehler

    I’ve been using a 2GB LiveScribe Pulse smartpen for the last few months and haven’t looked back. The ability to link one’s notes to audio has been a lifesaver. And if you have a color printer you can print your own paper.

  • http://thisoldbrain.net Mike Kirkeberg

    I use evernote for saving web related stuff, and when I am reading, I take notes in a couple of programs I am trying on my iPad, Noteshelf and Outliner, iThoughts, and Mindnode.
    MK

  • Bonny Clark

    I think I really just like to have them wake me during the night, running through my head, spilling out my ears. And then when I’m at my any-monkey-can-do-this job, let the same thing happen again.

    Thanks for the prompt – maybe there is a better way after all …

    • http://twitter.com/marymcd Mary McD

      The same thing happens to me – I keep small pad/pen next to me on the nightstand – when I’m awakened by things that I have to remember (or can’t fall asleep b/c I forgot to do something that day) I write it down so my brain will understand “it’s captured”. Then I can relax and rest!

      Same rule applies – write down enough details so you remember it in the morning. Writing “post blog” is OK if you have a post that needs to be scheduled; otherwise, you’ll need to write more details if you had a great blogging idea, like writing about underwater fish… :- )

      • Bonny Clark

        Thanks, Mary – that’s a good idea. I do use googledocs some, and good old fashioned Word docs, some, too. Once upon a time when I used a Palm I used the voice recorder feature on it A LOT. I miss that!

  • http://www.pammarketingnut.com PamMktgNut

    Chris I agree with you 100%. I was just looking as some chicken scratch notes today that made no sense. I use a notebook by Cambridge purchased at Office Depot I think. It’s great for mtgs as each page has date, topic, mtg objectives, attendees, notes/drawings and an action steps section at bottom. It’s quite similar to your drawing which I like.

    Sometimes I think as entrepreneurs we must embrace our idea jelly minds. The key is to embrace the jelly but not let it take over our lives. If I can just make 1% of my ideas fly I’ll be just fine financially ;)

    Good words, as usual! Thanks!

  • http://www.fedmod.tv Fed Mod

    I was just looking as some chicken scratch notes today that made no sense. I use a notebook by Cambridge purchased at Office Depot I think.I think as entrepreneurs we must embrace our idea jelly minds.

  • Anonymous

    In the dictionary under redundant it says, “see: redundant.” Was my first reaction to your excellent post, Chris. I can’t argue with anything you’ve stated above, however, my best note taking happens when I’m not really in a place where I can take notes. There are a lot of underwater fish swimming around in my head right now.

  • http://www.parmfarm.com Amy

    Chris!!

    I love this! I am at a retreat this week and, as I was taking notes yesterday I literally thought to myself ‘now write clearly so you can decipher it when you get home’. I can’t tell you how many times I have written myself a note, only to stare at it later thinking ‘what the heck is that??’.

    Underwater Fish

    I think you should submit that as one of your blog topics just to see how creative people can be in applying it to their niche.

    Amy Parmenter
    The ParmFarm

  • http://www.kaplancopy.com/blog Jodi Kaplan

    Ha! I just started to jot down a note for a future blog post: Picasso Value. Then I realized if I look at that again in a few days, I won’t know what the heck I was thinking! So, I wrote down a few sentences to expand the idea.

  • http://www.advancedwebads.com/sc/164 Randy Addison

    This is so useful! I learned a lot from the article. I have plenty of great ideas but I often forget those ideas after a day or two. So it is such a waste thinking about it in the first place. LOL

  • http://ClimbingEveryMountain.com Mary E. Ulrich

    This is wonderful information for everyone. Diagram. Meeting. Results.

    It reminds me of the classes on effective meetings the United Way used to give for non-profit boards.

    Another meeting strategy I use is to draw a quick sketch of the room (could be a circle/rectangle for a table) and then put the name/initials of the key people I want to remember. That helps me remember people’s names–one of my disabilities.

  • Anonymous

    I use an array of tools, mostly on my iPad, from Adobe Ideas to Popplet, TouchDraw to Chapters, iMockups to Keynote. All of that gets screen captured or added to Evernote. That’s when I make digital notes, very often I’m using a regular legal-size, white notepad and ball point pen. I have boxes of notepads that I’ve saved for years. There is still good stuff to go back and look at.

  • http://nateriggs.com nateriggs

    Great post, Chris. One of the things that helped me with note taking was switching over to sketch pads (rather than lined paper, which for some reason messes up my thought pattern).

    Like you, I draw lots of pictures and diagrams on notes, but that can also cause confusion if there’s lots of action items. I’ve been going back through my notes with different colored highlighters to denote actions, ideas, etc. I really dig the format you shared though and I’m going to give it a try… hat tip!

  • http://twitter.com/marymcd Mary McD

    Great posting as always, Chris. I’m a notebook user; so I keep the front of the notebook for meetings, etc. and start from the back of the notebook for what you/Scott term action steps and other stuff that comes up. So, the back of the notebook may say stuff like “Call dentist for appt” and “what is best way to analyze website traffic?” – two totally different thoughts, but still both worth capturing. I cross of the stuff at the back and either “X” the entire page when done (if bound) or rip out (if spiral), as I keep notebooks as records. If I’m on the computer, I use GMail and open the task window – I can throw stuff there for working on later without cluttering my mind on what I’m doing now.

  • http://www.socialmediamercenary.com Leslie A. Joy

    Behance puts out a notebook that I’m in love with that’s set up almost exactly like this. On the left side you have a a prep/focus section and then underneath a place for your notes. On the right they have sections with checkboxes for “Action Steps” and a small section underneath that for “Backburner” ideas. My notes became about 85% more readable after I started using it.

    And people should always right notes down.. Always! The Rolling Stones wrote “Satisfaction” based on a half scribbled note with a riff on it that Keith Richards wrote when half asleep.

  • Stirling Ruuth

    I totally do that, and thanks to you Chris, I have pretty much swapped all my note taking over to Evernote, i have it on my phone and I love that I can take pictures and write notes and it syncs with my desktop, or wherever I am. I love the “Take Action” part of it and making things happen. I will check out that book, it looks like it is exactly what i need.
    Thanks for Everything

  • Anonymous

    Chris, nice article. All writers confront this problem I think. I have many of the same kinds of notes scribbled here and there and it’s really frustrating when I simply can’t remember what the heck I was thinking when I made them.

    The biggest change in my note taking, and the only thing that’s helped solve this situation is the voice recorder on my iPhone. This has to be the best device for capturing the stray thoughts that blow through the mind, and you can use it in many places where it’s not practical to stop and get out a journal and start writing. Even a 10 or 15 second recording will give me the backup to my “underwater fishes” so at least I know what it was about. Try it!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Janice-Cartier/1510206911 Janice Cartier

    “underwater fish”…I love that. I also find the Action Sheets from Behance great at capturing any “underwater fish” that may need to be brought to surface and taken action on. As a visual artist I need a capture system that is flexible, design centric, but clearly actionable. Ideas stay ideas unless you can bring them to form… act on them, bring them into being, that is.

  • http://www.instantdane.tv Dane Findley

    While I like the *idea* of bringing my smart phone or my laptop to meetings to capture notes digitally — in reality, it’s just isn’t holistic enough for me: I like to draw, scribble, free-associate onto paper.

    I actually use a good old-fashioned clipboard (I have about 5 clipboards neatly arranged on my desk at any one time) and toward the end of the meeting, I usually will start to draw circles around like-items and add *stars* next to action steps.

    The clipboard goes back to my desk, and near the end of the day, I complete the urgent tasks, add the rest to a project map, and delegate whatever tasks need delegating. I use many of the 37signals web-based apps at this point.

    I’m intrigued by the Livescribe pen you mention! Specifically for meetings, that could be very helpful to me!

    { twitter = @danenow }

  • http://www.instantdane.tv Dane Findley

    While I like the *idea* of bringing my smart phone or my laptop to meetings to capture notes digitally — in reality, it’s just isn’t holistic enough for me: I like to draw, scribble, free-associate onto paper.

    I actually use a good old-fashioned clipboard (I have about 5 clipboards neatly arranged on my desk at any one time) and toward the end of the meeting, I usually will start to draw circles around like-items and add *stars* next to action steps.

    The clipboard goes back to my desk, and near the end of the day, I complete the urgent tasks, add the rest to a project map, and delegate whatever tasks need delegating. I use many of the 37signals web-based apps at this point.

    I’m intrigued by the Livescribe pen you mention! Specifically for meetings, that could be very helpful to me!

    { twitter = @danenow }

  • http://www.instantdane.tv Dane Findley

    While I like the *idea* of bringing my smart phone or my laptop to meetings to capture notes digitally — in reality, it’s just isn’t holistic enough for me: I like to draw, scribble, free-associate onto paper.

    I actually use a good old-fashioned clipboard (I have about 5 clipboards neatly arranged on my desk at any one time) and toward the end of the meeting, I usually will start to draw circles around like-items and add *stars* next to action steps.

    The clipboard goes back to my desk, and near the end of the day, I complete the urgent tasks, add the rest to a project map, and delegate whatever tasks need delegating. I use many of the 37signals web-based apps at this point.

    I’m intrigued by the Livescribe pen you mention! Specifically for meetings, that could be very helpful to me!

    { twitter = @danenow }

  • http://socialthreat.com Davezilla

    I am a fan of Evernote as well, Chris. Can’t recall if it was you or Amber who nudged me to use it. I do recall you posting once about MindNote and I am addicted to that (much faster for mind-mapping than OmniGraffle was). Every so often, I need a change to break up my habits and will leave Evernote and use the Behance method and app, which are quite good as well.

  • http://socialthreat.com Davezilla

    I am a fan of Evernote as well, Chris. Can’t recall if it was you or Amber who nudged me to use it. I do recall you posting once about MindNote and I am addicted to that (much faster for mind-mapping than OmniGraffle was). Every so often, I need a change to break up my habits and will leave Evernote and use the Behance method and app, which are quite good as well.

  • http://twitter.com/PeterPaluska Peter Paluska

    Powerful ideas are beautiful but don’t forget to write them down in a clear manner for optimum utility! That’s the take-away for me, at least.

    Thanks as always for the sound guidance.

    Peter

  • http://milasblog.typepad.com Mila Araujo

    I loved this post. Firstly I will say that the idea to created a patterned routine of note taking is definitely a strong habit to develop to avoid jumbles of non nonsensical notes. I think a good solid suggestion.

    Funny I should read this today, because usually I have a mind that remembers exactly what I mean- deciphering my notes always triggers just the right thoughts of where I wanted to be when I look back at them. Until this week. I had been speaking to a client, taking notes on our meeting, jumbled all over a page, I looked it all over a few times after the call, and I was clear.

    Two days later I had relayed the information to an assistant working on the case. Most of it was in my memory, I in fact did not really even have to refer to the notes. However, a few hours later when the documents came back, a question came up and I decided to refer to my notes, maybe I forgot something… I looked at them and there was something written, and i had no idea what it meant. I was truly puzzled, this never happens to me. What on earth did it mean. At the moment, on reflection, I said to myself – well I must be getting old. Then, I read this post just now – 3 days later… Making me think back to this incident, and I will add something now, far removed from the situation, if I think back to it, I think it is fair to say when I wrote my notes, my mind was not 100% in the situation. I was not 100% present. Most of the information I was discussing was so basic, that it required only half if not less of my attention to follow and also to respond appropriately. Is it possible, I wonder – now in response to your wonderful post that another dimension comes into play. Perhaps it is with considering, when we write these notes, are we really 100% present, or are our minds wandering and ever so slightly , but yet enough to play tricks within our notes.

    If a subject is not as captivating or as fresh as what our minds would need to challenge us, perhaps it is worth wondering if we did not somehow drift off with the part of our mind that wasn’t needed..Maybe, in some cases, it is worth asking “Am/was I present?”.


    This being said, back to the note structure you recommend: I propose a practical added recommendation: a section added for : “I am not really present but trying” to empty the brain and come back into the conversation. If we are present, I think our minds will get back in there. :)

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  • http://www.observer.com/node/45645 Pepe Fanjul

    and the main thing it is with considering, when we write these notes, are we really 100% present, or are our minds wandering and ever so slightly , but yet enough to play tricks within our notes.

  • http://www.observer.com/node/45645 Pepe Fanjul

    and the main thing it is with considering, when we write these notes, are we really 100% present, or are our minds wandering and ever so slightly , but yet enough to play tricks within our notes.

  • http://www.theproductivitymaven.com Tara Rodden Robinson

    Hi Chris,

    I’ve used Law Ruled paper for many years for the same reason you describe: to isolate important information for follow up. I use “@wf” to mark something someone else is going to provide and a simple hand-drawn box for items that belong on my task lists. A quick Google search will provide sources for pre-printed, lined law ruled pads or loose leaf; there’s also a site that supplies a template if folks wish to print their own.

    Best wishes,
    Tara