Online strategies for your business notetaking


This blog is for you if the way that you are currently keeping notes, plans and important stuff written down in notebooks and it is not working for you.

This could be for several different reasons:

  1. You are constantly searching around for a certain note that you wrote.

  2. You are duplicating on work having to write it up.

  3. You are having to carry multiple notebooks and planners around with you as you know that there are important things in different books.

  4. Number three is doing your back in!

  5. A. N. Other reason.

I hasten to add, if the way that you keep notes IS working for you, don’t change it! But like everything on my blog this aims to help improve your working situation and give you advice and guidance to improve your customer journey administration and professionalise your work.

Research

I did some research in preparation for this blog and I found that the people that I surveyed (loosely around 30 odd people participated, loosely) fell into two or three camps in terms of how they use hand written notepads:

  1. Separate notepads for different purposes - four or five of varying sizes.

  2. One and a planner - like a diary, day-to-day type planner.

  3. Only electronic - fairly rare, generally everyone wrote something on paper.

Where do you fit? I kinda fall into number 2. I do have a notepad and I USED to have a paper diary but I am moving more towards keeping all of my notes online. Why? So I don’t have to constantly search for things which saves so much time and sanity. And to be a little greener in line with my ethos around sustainability.

So the rest of this blog takes the 11 categories of items that my sample told me that they use notepads for, and I offer up suggestions for how you can move away from a notepad and take them online.

Online strategies for note taking

If you are looking to reduce your reliance on notepads then read on!

1. To-do list

I have written a couple of blogs on this topic that you’ll find below, they give you some very simple ways of improving your current to-do list situation. We’ve all got one, but having it all in one place is not necessarily the best way to get through it.

Overcoming the overwhelm of the to-do list and maximising your time

The key to getting to the bottom of your to-do list

2. Client meeting notes

Where do you store your client information? If you have shared files or you personally store your client information on GSuite or Dropbox, why not start taking these notes online in the meeting and storing them in that place straight away? This will save up writing time and can be shared with the team, and client if need be.

Do you have actions as a result of these meetings? If it is actions that come out of these meetings, why not add these immediately onto an online to-do list.

Is it notes that you know you’ll need to reference? If you are just scribbling because humans retain information better when writing, then I would stick to the paper notepad.

Is it notes that you will need to share with team members? As above, write them up directly into the place that you store them in your shared folder. Make sure that you use a consistent naming convention so everyone can find them.

If you take client notes a lot and you need to send them up to your clients, consider video notes using software such as loom. It is a huge time-saver and really helps when showing step-by-step instructions of something on your screen. This blog looks at what Loom is and how to use it.

Or, alternatively you could consider an electronic notepad that turns your handwritten notes into text. I haven not used one myself but a reliable source tells me that Royole RoWrite is a good option. And at around £100 it’ll pay for itself in no time.

3. Brainstorming

There are loads of creative tools out there. I personally use Creately because it has the most flexibility, is cost effective (and free in most cases) and is not buggy like I found many programmes to be.

You can use it to create flow charts, mind maps and lots of different types of diagrams.

4. Schedules

If you want to move your schedule away from paper you could use Trello for scheduling or a free online diary software like TeamUp which will help you to map out your strategies in calendar view.

I use Trello for my blog schedule, list headings as follows:

  • Brain dump - all my blog ideas

  • Schedule - one card for each blog post with date/month

  • Draft - move along once in draft

  • Published - move along when publishing and promoting

  • Complete - when the initial round of promotion has finished. This then serves as a prompt when I want to reshare at a later date.

You can get online with Trello here if you are not already using it.

5. General ideas

Again, I use Trello to brain dump all of this sort of information so I have a board for Big Picture Strategy with lists such as:

  • Scaling - jobs I need to undertake to scale my business

  • Team development - tasks to get my business ready to introduce a team

  • Big ideas - maybe pie in the sky, but ideas all the same

Notice, this is different from a to-do list. I think one of the crucial issues with getting to the bottom of a to-do list is that we tend to use it for everything in our head. That is not helpful when trying to get things done. The big picture strategy board allows me to have clear headspace, safe in the knowledge that I am storing that information somewhere.

I do not write anything random down on a notepad anymore. I have got into the habit of only storing these ideas on Trello in the relevant place. As Trello has such a good app, it makes on the go note-taking easier.

6. Business plans

As above, I keep this on Trello so within my Big Picture board I have the following lists:

As well as my general ideas lists above, this helps me to keep my plans strategic and keep me accountable to them.

7. Calculations

I’ve got no suggestions for taking this online...apart from if you keep losing those calculations and having to re-write them, make sure you immediately transfer them to a useful storage place like a client folder, or a single document to return to so that you can use the work again without having to redo it.

8. Passwords

You can use a book….but, you do then have to take that book with you everywhere, so I would recommend using LastPass to store all of your passwords - it is one vault, with one complex password which auto-fills your information on your desktop via a chrome extension.

You can also use on your phone although the technicality isn’t as smooth it is still a great little tool. I highly recommend this if you are looking to grow and share your business with a team as you can share the passwords without giving the password out.

9. Sketches

Two things: if you want to continue using a sketch pad (I am not a creative so I wouldn’t profess to dictate on something hugely outside of my area of expertise) carry on.

But I would suggest capturing photos of those images and saving them within the relevant file structure, on your Trello board / project management location so that you can view and reference them when you are out and about without needing to take the whole notepad.

Also, if you have and use a tablet (I have a 2:1 laptop so I can bend the screen back and it turns into a tablet of sorts) you can use Sketch - to mock up quick drawings. With plenty of different nifty options it works well and looks more professional than writing out and taking a snap. Doesn’t work that well using a mouse or trackpad, hence the mention of being a tablet user.

10. Notes from talks etc.

These could easily be taken on your phone during the session and stored in one place.

I have a ‘Business Blueprint’ board on Trello (I know, I know, love Trello!) where I store all of my business information that I regularly need to access and want to find at the click of the button.

Additionally, if you have actions from those sessions, they can be stored on an online to-do list immediately to make sure that you actually carry out those actions.

This is just a snapshot of SOME of the lists I have on this board:

11. Social media post ideas.

I use Trello to plan out my social media on a Sunday so that I can then quickly and easily post during the week. I am slightly time poor in the mornings on account of my personal commitments so this process allows me to stay active without the stress of thinking up content each morning.

So I write all my text, upload the images (including ones I create on Canva) and stick it on a Trello card as follows:

So in turn, if you have social ideas pinging around you head, this is one way that you could keep them all in one place, no matter where you are. Because the Trello app is fab.

To sum up

Is there anything else that you use notepads for that I haven’t covered here? Let me know. If I can help out with any of this, let me know. As with anything, administration becomes less burdensome when put through a rigorous process.

You can get in touch, book in a call or book a Process Power Hour here - if you can’t find a slot that suits, please let me know

This article contains some affiliate links which means that if you follow through and sign up, I will receive a small monetary sum or credits towards my own subscription. I only recommend tools that I use myself and think are up to the job.


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