I admit that I am a compulsive note taker. I’m sure it springs from my 20+ years as a journalist. When you get paid to ask people questions, it’s certain that they expect you to write down what they say. So, I do.
The note taking isn’t reserved, however, for the forum of interviewer-interviewee. Nah. It’s way past that.
In organizational meetings, I take copious notes. Even when not asked. So, invariably, I am the one who sends out the minutes. I’ve got them anyway. Why not?
When the phone rings, I automatically open up my notebook to a crisp new page. As I say hello, I’m already writing the date at the top left corner of the page and the name of the person calling. Yeah, it’s that bad.
In some ways, it’s good, too. I’ve created a kind of archive for myself. Open up any random notebook and I can tell what I was working on, who I was chatting with, on any given day. In the kind of work I do, having a record of information is useful. Juggling a lot of projects at once, it’s easy to forget who said what to whom and when, or what I’m supposed to do for one client and not another. If I’m unsure, I look it up in my notebook for the date of the last meeting. It’s sort of like having a personal assistant. Only the personal assistant is me, taking notes, three weeks or three months earlier.
And in some ways, yes, it’s bad. One client of mine was particularly litigious and his foes knew about my note taking addiction. It’s not a lot of fun having your notebooks subpoenaed when you’re as attached to them as I am, believe you me. No fun at all.
When I moved from Florida to Washington, I was faced with my overwhelming archive. Thirty or so notebooks filled with thoughts recorded over a period of the previous eight years stared me down as I filled cardboard boxes with dishes and linens and trinkets. The day I moved those notebooks from their suddenly bare shelf to the dumpster was both distressing and liberating. (Oh, and please don’t berate me for not recycling. I couldn’t stand the thought that those pages would be turned into someone else’s notebooks. No, they had to be dead and gone for good.)
My best friend, Janiene, knows about my notes, too. She’s known me since we were both 17-years-old, and she loves me despite my odd quirks and scribbling obsession. Three years ago, when I came up with the What’s Your Avocado? concept, Janiene had a notebook custom-made for me. On the front is my name and the words What’s Your Avocado. The notebook was the first printed document to have those words on it. It is in this notebook that I’ve recorded all of my thoughts on the concept that eventually grew into to my company, countless workshops, and the blog you’re reading now. Without this notebook, I wonder how far the concept would have emerged? With all of my thoughts, arguments with myself, challenges, doubts, dreams and triumphs recorded in this one spot, I have a chronicle of my progress and a guide for the steps to come. What a perfect gift. What a lucky and grateful friend I am, indeed.
All of this writing about note taking gets me to wondering if I’m the only one out there who has this notes fixation? I wonder what strategies you use to record your important notes, tasks, action items or thoughts? I’d love for you to share. And believe me, I’ll take note.
Stacie Zinn Roberts is a nationally recognized, award-winning writer and marketing expert with more than 25 years of experience. She has won more than 40 national awards for her work including the United Nations Environmental Program for retail environmental marketing, as well as from organizations such at the Public Relations Society of America and the Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association. She’s written for industry publications such as Golf Course Management, Sports Turf, Golfdom and PR Daily. She spent eight years as the president and director of marketing for Environmental Turf, where she developed the branding for SeaDwarf Seashore Paspalum, the grass that eventually became the greens grass for the Rio Olympic Golf Course. Stacie served for six years on the Board of Directors of the Florida Turfgrass Association as Chair of the Research & Scholarship Committee where she worked closely with the scientists from the University of Florida’s turfgrass breeding program. Stacie founded What’s Your Avocado? Marketing & Public Relations in 2012.