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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Getting Ahead

The 30-Second Habit That Will Change Everything

Note-taking is always a conundrum.

Taking none is certainly the easy way out, but then you find yourself a day or two after an awesome meeting or inspiring conference unable to remember anything you learned. Taking extensive notes, however, takes time—and often means you accumulate more information than you’ll ever read again.

So, what if I told you there was a 30-second solution to (most) of your note-taking woes?

Robyn Scott puts forth the elegantly simple idea on Medium: Immediately after any lecture, conference, meeting, or other significant experience, take 30 seconds to write down the most important points. That’s it. It sounds so simple—almost a useless exercise—but after several months of trying it out, Scott shares her experience and the multiple benefits:

You learn to listen better, and ask better questions: Once you get into the habit of the 30 second review, it starts to change the way you pay attention, whether listening to a talk or participating in a discussion. It’s like learning to detect a simple melody amidst a cacophony of sound. And as you listen with more focus, and ask better questions which prompt actionable answers, so your 30 second review becomes more useful.

Additionally, she says, it helps you interpret information and decide what really matters, capture nuance in conversations, and better help others.

And while Scott is careful to point out that it’s not note taking—in fact, even if you take notes, you should still try the 30-second review, too—we agree that it’s an even better habit. There is a time and a place for extensive notes, like when your boss is giving you the details about an assignment. But most of the time, 30 seconds will do.

We’re going to start trying the 30 second review—are you? Tweet us @dailymuse and tell us how it’s going!

Photo of man writing courtesy of Alejandro Escamilla.