Note-Making Goals

What do I want to achieve from better note-making?

Why do I make notes? What do I want to change? What are my goals for this process?

This post is part of my wider enquiry into my note-making practices.

Why do I make notes?

One of those questions that seems ridiculously simple on first look, but which pull out more depth as you sit on it for a while.

Recording and planning action

  • What did I do?
  • What have I got to do tomorrow / next month / next quarter?
  • What is the plan for any of those future things?

Recording knowledge

  • what do I need to remember in order to do this task or project?
  • what did I find out?
  • who else has something useful to say on this topic?
  • what questions are unanswered?

Developing thought

  • what are the possible courses of action?
  • what do I think I should do?
  • what are the implications of what I have discovered?

What do I want to improve

When I considered my own note-making practice I observed that it was mostly short-term, and mostly task-focused. In other words keep just enough records to remember key conversations and decisions, and record just enough knowledge to satisfice for the task in hand. Often those task-focused notes are nothing more than a series of links to relevant online resources.

In terms of longer-term notes, although I have access to plenty of tools, I found I wasn’t using them very much. In particular I noticed that for much of my professional activity I was relying on tacit knowledge, and that my use of explicit tools was somewhat constrained to my “hobby” activities.

In part that seems to be about how I manage the perennial balancing act of what I can discuss in public and what is proprietary to my employer. That barrier was in turn reflected in a disconnect of tooling - the more usable tools were the ones I have associated with my public discourse (such as this!).

I had no over-arching model of practice for my note-making practices which might serve as a scaffolding for improvement.

Goals for the process

  • Develop a frame of practice that can guide my note-making.
  • Integrate note-making for knowledge management and note-making for work planning into a single approach
  • Harmonise my practices across personal and professional spheres to reduce friction, whilst maintaining appropriate separation of public and confidential notes.
  • Simplify (or at least harmonise) the tool-sets I use
Proactive application of technology to business

My interests include technology, personal knowledge management, social change