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Ask the Entrepreneurs: 9 Best Note Taking Tools

Ask the Entrepreneurs: 9 Best Note Taking Tools

Ask The Entrepreneurs is a regular series where members of the Young Entrepreneur Council are asked a single question that aims to help Lifehack readers level up their own lives, whether in a area of management, communication, business or life in general.

Here’s the question posed in this edition of Ask The Entrepreneurs:

What’s your favorite tool for taking notes at important meetings?

1. Evernote

dave-nevogt

    I have Evernote open on my mobile constantly to take notes at meetings. It allows me to travel light without having to bring the computer and syncs along. I announce to the other party that I am taking notes so they still know that I am paying attention and not texting or answering emails.

    Dave Nevogt, Hubstaff.com

    2. Fleksy

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    John Hall

      With Fleksy, I don’t have to look at the keyboard while I type. I can keep eye contact with the people in the meeting and take notes at the same time.

      John Hall, Influence & Co.

       

      3. A Moleskine Notebook

      Patrick Vlaskovits

        The Moleskine notebook has the perfect form factor. It slips into my pocket and looks great. It’s unbeatable.

        Patrick Vlaskovits, The Lean Entrepreneur
        4. A Classic Notepad

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        Andy Karuza

          I still love the traditional way of jotting down quick notes or even drawing necessary diagrams at the same time to help communicate the message from the meeting. If I want to go digital, I just snap a photo of the notes with my phone and email it to myself.

          Andy Karuza, Brandbuddee

          5. Basecamp

          Patrick Conley

            We have people on our team who take amazing notes during our calls, especially when talking to clients. I’ve found that taking notes distracts me and pulls me out of the moment. We record all of our important calls and have team members taking great notes that we store withBasecamp so that we never lose important discussions.

            Patrick Conley, Automation Heroes

            6. Evernote Moleskine

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            Brennan White

              I find typing during meetings sends the wrong message no matter how polite you are in explaining your intentions. It removes eye contact and shows disinterest. To combat this, I use Evernote Moleskine, a notebook that digitizes your writing into searchable online text. Your colleagues feel you’re engaged, and you have a perfect set of notes.

              Brennan White, Watchtower

              7. iA Writer

              Chuck Reynolds

                During meetings or calls, I constantly rely on iA Writer. It supports markdown to quickly format content and, most importantly, autosaves constantly. I’ve never lost notes even when I don’t save them right away. It’s amazing. Other tools were too volatile, and I’ve lost notes during meetings because of crashes. IA Writer is superior, and I highly recommend it.

                Chuck Reynolds, Levers

                8. A Composition Book

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                Saul Garlick

                  It’s from elementary school, but it works just as well. I put a wide-ruled composition book with the classic marble cover into a leather notebook jacket I picked up years ago in Manhattan. The cover keeps it professional while the inside is as strong as ever. I never lose a page and jot down everything that matters.

                  Saul Garlick, ThinkImpact

                  9. Pivotal Tracker

                  jared-brown

                    Any note worth taking should be in the form of an action item. I record action items in a project management tool such as Pivotal Tracker and assign it to someone right there and then. That way tasks and thoughts don’t fall through the cracks after the meeting is over.

                    Jared Brown, Hubstaff

                    More by this author

                    9 No-Brainer Ways to Track Employee Time Ask the Entrepreneurs: 12 Things Entrepreneurs Should Stop Doing Ask the Entrepreneurs: 9 Best Note Taking Tools Ask the Entrepreneurs: 12 Tips for Mastering Public Speaking Ask the Entrepreneurs: 9 Tasks You Should be Outsourcing

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                    1 How to Motivate Employees and Boost Team Productivity 2 How SMART Goal Setting Makes Lasting Changes in Your Life 3 7 Clever Goal Tracker Apps to Make the Most of Your Business in 2019 4 The Surefire Method to Set Long Term Goals and Reach Success 5 17 Smart Tips on Setting Goals to Accomplish More in Life

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                    Last Updated on February 18, 2019

                    How to Motivate Employees and Boost Team Productivity

                    How to Motivate Employees and Boost Team Productivity

                    These days, in a world with cognitive, AI, and extraordinary advances, we have failed at the most basic stimulus: motivation. Why do I say so? Just take a look at these statistics:

                    58 percent of managers said they didn’t receive any management training as per a CareerBuilder.com survey. Only 12% of employees leave their jobs because of more money. Research indicates that around 80% of employees leave their jobs due to “lack of appreciation”. Due to fear of failing, more than half of American workers don’t take their paid vacations. 53% of Americans are unhappy at work (not engaged). And 1 in 3 are working in a field they don’t like.[1]

                    Archaic people management and HR structures are the root cause.

                    “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

                    So how to motivate employees and boost team productivity?

                    Here are 3 key things that you can do to motivate your employees and boost team productivity:

                    1. Run Your Team/Group/Company like a Lean Startup

                    The Lean Startup phenomena by Eric Ries has been socialized across millions all over the globe. In a nutshell, it is a methodology for developing businesses and products, which aims to shorten product development cycles and rapidly discover if a proposed business model is viable; this is achieved by adopting a combination of business-hypothesis-driven experimentation, iterative product releases, and validated learning.[2]

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                    Encourage Your Employees

                    When you empower your employees (or family members) to do what they deem to be best for a particular roadblock, idea, or improvement, you create magic. You create genuine trust. You enable innovation. The result is happy, inspired employees who feel they have a say in the grand cosmic stage at work.

                    Note that increasing the competency level of employees and coaching and mentoring them along the way is key. You yourself, need to do the same. Nourish your brain – and get a mentor that will keep you at the edge of your game.

                    Offer Rewards

                    Motivation is also intrinsic. The startups I have worked at offered instant rewards — not just fat checks or equity increments, but Oscar-style nominations.

                    The non-monetary rewards were actually more coveted, and grandiose: lunch with the CEO, tickets to an Obama fund-raiser, horse-back riding with a world-class equestrian.

                    Compare this to a dodgy, corporate, white-cubicle dinosaur that had a “yearly performance review” where both parties dread the conversation. In a world of instant WhatsApp messages, having a conversation about performance, likes and dislikes cannot just happen annually in 60 minutes. Employees need to be rooted in the belief that their manager genuinely cares about them.

                    Give Autonomy

                    Another key attribute is autonomy. Most employees start brushing their resumes and cruising LinkedIn when their hands are tied in their current positions: approval forms, long meetings, escalations, and more meetings. In the world of agile and scrum masters, deliberating for the sake of deliberating is poison. You will choke the very employees that giddily accepted the job initially to “change the world”.

                    Within a reasonable realm of assessment and deep-dives, trust your employees to do the heavy lifting. Give them access to the knowledge, people and resources that help them directly make the choices that will shape the future of your team, and your company.

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                    Eliminate yourself as the bottleneck – and interject yourself as a benevolent, servant leader that is the symbol of high-performing organizations.

                    2. Apply the 90/90/1 Rule

                    I recently saw a video by Deepak Sharma (a leadership adviser) about productivity and this principle stuck with me. Here’s what it’s about:

                    Devote the First 90 Minutes of Your Day to Important Project

                    For the next 90 days, devote the first 90 minutes of your day to your most important project—nothing else. Do this for yourself and your employees.

                    We usually get sucked into the most wasteful, operational activities in the morning which robs our focus, and steers us into an unwanted rabbit hole. So mute your notifications, avoid the temptation to check your exploding inbox, and scroll your Instagram feed later. Instead, focus on that ONE thing that will provide real value to you, your team, or your business/company/home.

                    Apply this rule to yourself – and your team. Your team will thank you. Note: If you’re feeling really stretched for time, you can always hack the rule by testing out a “45/45/1” version.

                    A To Do Scheduling System

                    Another version of this is to use the Kanban concept, developed by Taiichi Ohno, an industrial engineer at Toyota. Kanban is a scheduling system employing boards and cards.

                    The most basic version is a canvas with “To-do”, “Doing”, and “Done” boards (or columns). Each activity or task is a “card” that moves from one column to the other. I use Trello (a Kanban-inspired app) that is a key system for my personal and professional life. It allows me to understand my workload, their priority, and due dates.

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                    I use importance and effort metrics (scores) for each task to understand what is truly necessary in my life to work on. It negates the FIFO (first-in, first out) paradox that has plagued millions of people. Instead, it allows me to take stock of what is on my plate, and then bite on what truly will move the needle for me, my team, my life, and my company.

                    With a limited appetite (at least for some), would you eat the veggies, fries, mashed potatoes and leave the sizzling steak? No, you wouldn’t (unless you are a vegan and ended up in the wrong restaurant).

                    Approach your work with a weighted vengeance – and encourage your team to do the same.

                    3. Align Passion and Skills to Purpose

                    The heart of human excellence often begins to beat when you discover a pursuit that absorbs you, frees you, challenges you, and gives you a sense of meaning, joy and passion.

                    “The most fortunate people on earth are those who have found a calling that’s bigger than they are—that moves them and fills their lives with constant passion, aliveness, and growth.” — Richard Leider

                    An ace team-member once told me that while she enjoys working for the company we both used to work at, she really hated anything to do with technology. She was more of a “people” person, and did not want to sit behind a desk sifting through lines of code.

                    What struck me was that she was in that role for more than a decade and had just spoken up. The good thing is she spoke up. She expressed her desire and interests. And it allowed her to get into a role of her liking within 30 days.

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                    Ask If They like What They’re Doing

                    If you, or a team member is frustrated, demotivated, or not performing at their best – one of the questions you should ask is whether they like what they are doing. Then genuinely try to help them get to the role they should be in (whether in the same team/company or not).

                    There’s a reason why 53% of Americans (and perhaps more or same across the globe) are unhappy at work. A butcher cannot be an ace salad maker. Pursue your passion – and help pave the way for your team. Unlock your potential and theirs. You will command and lead a supercharged team.

                    “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs

                    The Bottom Line

                    Sometimes, passion has to be ignited. It is dormant, clouded by busy-ness, buried by wrong career choices, and plagued by non-supportive eco-systems. Some will climb out of it, but we as society — and in the case of business teams — incumbent upon the manager/CEO/leader to foster, grow, and nurture the employee.

                    Teach her the ropes. Show her the path. Advise him as you would yourself. Let them lead, and make mistakes. Do not fear them, rather make them the leader you would want to become.

                    For your not-so-great team members, understand that it is not personal, it is just not a good fit. Help them move on to the pastures they would be fit to graze on. Hence, hire slow (and fire fast).

                    Your team is a reflection of you. Boosting their confidence and helping them achieve the impossible is motivation. Focus on that, and you will have a productive team that you and your company will be proud of.

                    More Resources About Team Management

                    Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

                    Reference

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