Taking notes and documenting daily diaries - Who do you do it?

interpersonal skills Notes notetaking organizingnotes soft skills Taking Notes
New answer on Aug 03, 2020
4 Answers
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Mike (Mustafa) asked on Jul 30, 2020

Hi all.

I have taking up an exercise to help me with my day-to-day tasks.

At the beginning of the day, I note down what I will be doing for the day. At the end of that day, I will write a summary of what has been done, key learning, and useful resources.

I have been doing this for 6 months now.

What I have noticed is that my productivity, communication skills, and even performance reviews started going really well and the outcomes were in my favour, for the most part.

Additionally, I started to learn more about myself, what sort of skills I need and how to find resources to develop my skills.

I wanted to ask:

  1. Do you have your own daily note-taking routine?
  2. How effective is it?
  3. How did you improve it?
  4. What am I missing as I am taking my daily notes?
  5. What useful resources do you recommend?

Your input, experience and thoughts are highly appreciated.

Cheers!

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Best answer
Jasper
Expert
replied on Jul 30, 2020
Expert Financial Services | ex-FinTech Unicorn Manager | 250+ real interviews | 14y+ int work exp | ESCP Business School

Hi Mike,

excellent question for consultants as it's both very structured and about meeting goals!

To answer you're questions:

ad 1.: Yes, I start with a coffee too ;-) and then I write down what you want to to that day including priorities.

ad 2.: Pretty effective. Because without goals or decisions you're probably rather "muddling through" the day

ad 3.: Simple review of did I achieve my goals and how fast. It is very helpful to set a time limit for each task and to finish/complete it after this time! Like "better achieving 80% in 20% of the time, than investing another 80% to achieve the last 20% and being "perfect". Decision taking helps"

ad 4.: see "ad 3."

ad 5.: I made the experience that it doesn't matter if you use a pen and a piece of paper or a sophisticated app. But: Be consistent with the "tool" you're using and communiate with others others!

I'm sure you'll get much more feedback on this because everybody does it differently. But I'm already very much impressed that you were consistenly taking notes for the last 6 months!

All the best - Jasper

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Mike (Mustafa) on Aug 03, 2020

Thank you. I appreciate your feedback. You bring up some really important points. I will improve my note taking. Now, I have moved to more details. I am writing pages of notes for one day at some points. But it is helpful.

Francesco
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Jul 31, 2020
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.000+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ InterviewOffers.com) | Ex BCG | 9Y+ Coaching

Hi Mike,

Interesting questions. Here is my experience on your points

  1. Yes, I actually track down all the key activities I do everyday
  2. Tracking is super-effective and the majority of the very productive people use it
  3. Here are some things that helped me:
    1. For routines, write down in rows your progress (eg in excel) so that you can visualize it, that’s great to keep the flow day after day
    2. Use an accountability partner for your goals – it helps to commit more
    3. Plan the goals for next day (max 3) the night before
  4. See 3
  5. If you want to move to the next steps in terms of productivity, subscribe to Darren Daily and read the Compound Effect by Darren Hardy – lot of great tips to improve. Plus Atomic Habits and Getting Things Done also have good tips on the topic

Best,

Francesco

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Mike (Mustafa) on Aug 03, 2020

Great notes and feedback! I really appreciate it and will certainly follow your recommendations.

Robert
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Aug 03, 2020
McKinsey offers w/o final round interviews - 100% risk-free - 10+ years MBB coaching experience - Multiple book author

Hi Mike,

  1. Yes, I guess more or less every consultant learns that at some point in time - latest after the first disappointing performance review. I guess there is no need to overthink that in principle - take your notes in whatever way works (actually it's one of the very few things I still like to do with a physical sheet of paper, but it's just my personal preference).
  2. Highly effective. You need to learn fast and consistently. Unless you have a systematic method to do it, you won't increase your performance fast and consistently enough.
  3. From my observation the most important thing is just doing it. Improving comes naturally - over time you just do it automatically to distill the most important issues and root causes out of your daliy occurrences. Good to improve, but don't try to over-optimize it, just do what feels natural and where you have most area for improvement (i.e. where your feedback was most devastating).
  4. Based on your short summary I'd say the specifics a) to understand the specific factors of that situation and how to recognize them next time to make it better from the beginning, and b) metrics (might be qualitative) to understand next time if you had a more successful approach).
  5. Never read a book or some specific resources on that - what worked for me was combining different 'best practices' from various successful persons, that's it.

Hope that helps - if so, please be so kind to give it a thumbs-up with the green upvote button below!

Robert

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Mike (Mustafa) on Aug 04, 2020

Hi Robert. Very great points. It is true that just consistency in doing it makes a huge difference. I am working towards some form of quantifying the work. I just need to keep doing it. I like your 5th point. It isn't about one book or another. It is exactly the way you describe it. I am just trying to learn from various resources on how to make things better, how to make myself better. That is my focus. Learning.

Robert on Aug 04, 2020

Great, glad there were some points for you included to take away! All the best for your improvement - and remember, it's a journey!

Anonymous replied on Jul 31, 2020

Dear Mustafa,

Thank you for your questions. It's very good that you're taking daily notes. It's actually one of the habbits which are extremely common in the consulting. It's absolutely great that you have this habbit, even before working in consulting.

It has been my routine since I only remember myself doing lists, but what I would recommend you to do it not on the daily basis, you may also write your plans and set up your goals for a week, for a month. And also you should have your yearly objectives and constantly track. In this way you will become very efficient machine.

What else I can recommend you is to read "7 habbits of highly effective people" by Sephen Covey. Just google it on the Amazon.

Hope, it helps,

If you need any further tips and insights related to this topic, just drop me a line and I'm happy to share my experience with you.

Best,

André

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Mike (Mustafa) on Aug 03, 2020

Thank you very much for your feedback. I am not in the consulting line, and I don't think I have the capabilities to make it as a consultant. BUT I am trying to learn how consultants do things on regular bases, what sort of habits they pick up along the way and how these habits make them better as time progresses. At my age, I don't think consulting firms would be interested in me. BUT I digress. I recently finished "7 Habits of highly effective people" It is extremely helpful. I also am practising to set long term goals. I am currently handling cases/projects, and these are the work targets for each Q. But I need to do something more on a personal level. Which is a work in progress after seeing the feedback here. Cheers.

(edited)

Jasper gave the best answer

Jasper

Expert Financial Services | ex-FinTech Unicorn Manager | 250+ real interviews | 14y+ int work exp | ESCP Business School
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