A follow-up to taking notes isn't lean: your advice for going paperless

Friday, March 3, 2017

AME Author, Founder-Lean Leadership Resource Center, Inc., www.leanleadershipresourcecenter.com

Your response to my recent article “Taking Notes Isn’t Lean” was amazing, as was the number of people that wrote back with thoughts and ideas. This article shares the highlights of the suggestions provided by others. Below are some of the practices suggested for making the transition to electronic note taking easier.

Don’t carry paper. Trent suggests going entirely paperless: don’t carry any paper with you, and only carry a pen for customs forms and documents that still require a physical signature.

Use OneNote. There are several different platforms for note taking, but Tricia suggests using OneNote to get more organized. OneNote allows you to organize pages by sections and easily share notes with your team. She finds it to be flexible, easy to use and compatible across many platforms.

Tell your colleagues. Trent says the most difficult part of going paperless for him was making sure he remembered to tell people in advance that he had made the transition so they knew he was not distracting his attention from them.

Use a pen. In meetings, Tricia holds her tablet on her lap so it doesn’t block her view, which encourages more open conversation. She suggests using a tablet pen when you want to sketch ideas quickly and when you want to use more of a mind-mapping method for taking notes so that the relationships between the notes are clear. It’s also a good conversion tool on your way to using the keyboard when you’re new to going paperless.

Try Livescribe. Scott enjoys using Livescribe [link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J2q8_fR0lTI], which allows you to write by hand but still enjoy the advantages of making your notes electronic.

Save meeting agendas in a Word doc. Shelly recommends saving a copy of the meeting agenda in a Word document and adding any questions and thoughts under each agenda topic prior to the meeting. During the meeting, she pulls the document up and types her notes under the appropriate headings.

Use apps to transfer handwritten notes to text. David suggests using the optimal character recognition (OCR) capabilities of OneNote or Evernote to snap a photo of handwritten notes on your phone. Either app is able to turn the handwritten copy into searchable, selectable, shareable text.

Utilize technology to transcribe. Ed uses Wacom Bamboo Spark to take notes and draw diagrams. Wacom has an Inkspace app that will save your notes as a picture or PDF and then transcribe handwritten notes into another format.

Take care of tasks right away. When in a meeting, Jake immediately puts tasks in his list of Outlook tasks. If there is an action for someone else as part of the team, he captures it right then and there on a task-tracking mechanism, such as SharePoint.

Use apps for nontraditional notes. When taking nontraditional notes such as large diagrams or stick note arrays, Jake uses Microsoft Office Lens and 3M’s Post-it Plus. Post-it Plus is perfect for capturing sticky note arrays and arranging them in a file you can easily export. Microsoft Office Lens is best for capturing whiteboard content.

Understand the benefits of handwritten notes. Some readers also wrote in explaining that they still take notes by hand because it provides important benefits, which gave me more food for thought. Recently, I noticed during a focus group that typing my notes gave the appearance that I wasn’t really listening to the group, even though I maintained eye contact. On the other hand, writing notes seemed more personal and reflected my commitment to understanding their viewpoints. While I might be imagining the difference, it’s how it made me feel. So, as long as I’m not retyping the notes, my position is that “sometimes handwritten notes are better.”

Thanks for all your ideas. I’m looking forward to trying some of these new methods.