Like many of you, I have a love/hate relationship with notes. I need a way to record what happens in meetings, in class, or when listening to a speaker, and notes provide that mechanism. Unfortunately, those notes are frequently lacking details, which makes them difficult to understand after the fact. Even worse, I, like many of you, sometimes get involved in a discussion (or zone out of one) and miss large chunks of time. Even when I do manage to get the right information written down clearly, it’s usually quite an ordeal to find it when needed. Consequently, while better than nothing, my notes historically haven’t really served their purpose well.
Looking at the problem, I believe there are really 3 main issues:
- Understandability. I need to record enough context to make the notes understandable.
- Completeness. I need to consistently record all the information I’ll need later.
- Findability. I need to be able to find the right information quickly when I need it.
Through the years, I’ve tried a number of things to address these issues. I’ll talk about these in reverse order.