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Ask the Entrepreneurs: 9 Best Note Taking Tools

Ask the Entrepreneurs: 9 Best Note Taking Tools
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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

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                    1 7 Effective Ways To Motivate Employees in 2021 2 How a Project Management Mindset Boosts Your Productivity 3 5 Values of an Effective Leader 4 How to Motivate People Around You and Inspire Them 5 The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

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                    Last Updated on July 21, 2021

                    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

                    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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                    No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

                    Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

                    Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

                    A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

                    Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

                    In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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                    From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

                    A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

                    For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

                    This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

                    The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

                    That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

                    Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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                    The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

                    Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

                    But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

                    The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

                    The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

                    A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

                    For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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                    But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

                    If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

                    For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

                    These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

                    For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

                    How to Make a Reminder Works for You

                    Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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                    Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

                    Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

                    My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

                    Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

                    I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

                    More on Building Habits

                    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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                    Reference

                    [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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