Shortly after bringing in the new year, I joined the Capgemini Accelerated Solutions Environment (ASE) team in London – along with our Telford colleagues,  arguably one of the most creative and artistically-skilled consulting services teams in the UK!
 
Though I have never considered myself to be un-creative – I studied art for GCSE, am a compulsive doodler and have been known to have the odd good idea in my time – soon enough I found myself plagued by an emotion that was entirely new to me…
NOTEBOOK ENVY!
 
I’ve never been one to care about pretty stationery – pah! And biros work perfectly well, don’t they?  But looking around the team, I felt a sudden need to hide my scruffy, scrawling notes and uncontrolled doodles.
So when I was recently recommended an online course on visual note-taking, I cleared my afternoon and jumped at the chance! 
 
First thing I learnt is that taking more time over your notes, and making them more visually appealing,  can actually help you to think more clearly. A key message that pervaded throughout was to slooooooow doooowwwnnnnn… With so many digital tools now available, we expect efficiency at every turn. I certainly do. Yet sometimes, taking a bit more time producing and digesting handwritten notes can have a much more profound effect. 
 
During the course, I also learned a number of other great tips that anyone can apply to make their notebooks that bit more polished. My top five favourites include:
  • Preparation is key: Take time before you start making your notes. There are some key steps to follow. 
  • Draw a frame around the page (slide your finger along the edge of the paper to help produce a straight line – who knew?!) 
  • Take the time to write a large title at the top or in the centre of the page
  • Write the date and location at the bottom of the page (great way to remember the context you wrote your notes in).
  • How to write legibly: This one is already a biggie in the ASE. WRITE IN BLOCK CAPITALS. I found it most uncomfortable to begin with but it genuinely is easier to read!
  • Create a hierarchy with your words: If you’re writing a key theme or point, write it in big. The details that surround it can be written in smaller text. It’s a good way of prioritising what’s on the page.
  • Stars make great people: And they’re easy to draw! 
  • Make use of scale and colour: These can be great ways of highlighting key points, or sometimes simply adding some variety to a page. 

 

And finally, practice makes perfect! Patience is a virtue, and my notebooks aren’t going to transform over night, but I’m already starting to see progress.