“Notes … Copious, F!%king Notes!”

August 24, 2007

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23232.jpgSeveral years back, while in a business meeting my boss at the time (a rather intense man), the tension in the room became quite thick as the boss admonished everyone to, “Stop taking notes, and start paying attention to everything I’m saying” … he further added, “You can’t pay attention and take notes at the same time!”

Not two minutes later, he walked over to where I was sitting and quite sternly explained, “Not you, you’re their manager … you need to be taking notes … copious, f**king notes!!”

To this day I giggle every time I think about that moment, for two reasons: First, because my boss has such strong opinions on the matter. Second, because I’m sure I was witness to the first time in history the word “copious” and the “F” bomb where ever used in the same sentence.

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But aside from all that, was he right? Of course his delivery was inappropriate, but was his note-taking assertion correct? Is it impossible to pay attention and take notes at the same time?Actually, nothing could be further from the truth. As a matter of fact, I assert that the mere act of taking notes, even if you never look at them again, keeps you more engaged. Why? Because you have to listen to, ponder, and translate the ideas into your own words – that’s pretty engaged. That’s a lot better than thinking about what sounds good for lunch (which is what we all do when we’re not taking notes anyways).

So what’s the moral of this story? Take notes! Its best to use just one notebook at a time, preferably something bound … that way you’ll have a chronological record of all of the notes you’ve taken. Keep it on your desk to use as a “scratch pad”, and take it to all your meetings. Use it to jot down notes while on the phone, in a meeting, or just to gather your thoughts. Take notes … even copious ones if you want!

“He listens well, who takes notes.” - Dante

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