The Importance of Good Notetaking Within the Workforce 

A new job in your chosen field is always an exciting transition from years of classwork, homework, and tests. There is, however, a skill from school that continues to produce great merit within the workforce – the ability to take good notes. 

Yes, notes. To write is to think, and to think is to communicate clearly; both to yourself and to others. Good notes will improve your ability to carry out the many facets of job requirements with celerity; a swiftness and accuracy of skill despite lapses in practice. But what is the hallmark of truly exceptional note taking, and how can you sharpen this skill? 

Good notes are: 

  1. Easy to read (both legible and comprehensible). 
  2. Organized, and
  3. Strike a balance between enough info and “overwhelmingly cluttered”. 

Like school notes, work notes inform you how to perform a duty, in addition to aiding your understanding of why it is done in such a way. You can follow a “Statement, Reason, and Example” approach. When creating notes for a specific protocol or task, ask yourself “What do I need to know immediately to complete this task with repeatable accuracy?” 

This is crucial when working within the healthcare field, and I personally have used these methods as an X-Ray technologist, and currently as a CT Scan Technologist. CT (Computed tomography) uses x-rays to scan studies of human anatomy, and there are a wide variety of studies to image a wide variety of possible pathologies. These scans are then presented to a Radiologist; a medical doctor whose specialty is to diagnose pathology through imaging studies. I employ a “Statement, Reason, Example” approach to document how each scan should be performed. 

For example, the “Statement” portion of my scan notes details the immediate technical factors I will use each time I perform a specific study. My “Reason” explains how the final exam should look, and why this study is utilized. My “Example” is how the finished study must be arranged before it is sent to the Radiologist. Sending an incomplete or disorganized study is not ever an option! Each scan of human anatomy requires different Statements, Reasons, and Examples, but by organizing each protocol this way, I can complete any study with the same accuracy.  

Beware, though, the “Three-month trap”! The first few weeks after finishing your notes they will be almost too easy to follow; this is because you have spent so much time writing them that they are currently second nature. The true test is to make certain your notes still fit the criteria of “Good notes are…” after the memory period has waned. (Three months – give or take) Remember that some duties are not performed daily, but still require the best of your ability. It is your responsibility to carry out all tasks no matter how long it has been since you last tried. Show your notes to colleagues both more and less experienced than you; can they follow them correctly to complete the task? 

Although I use my field as an example, explore ways you can utilize the “Statement, Reason, Example” approach for your own work-related tasks. Remember that each aspect of this approach works best when they meet the above three criteria (Easy to read, organized, and sufficient info), and do not fall prey to the “Three-month Trap.” Make your work notes your own and take pride in them. Who knows? Some day they may become the guidebook for a new generation in your field.  

Photo by Anna Tarazevich from Pexels

By Nicholas M. Jannetty, RT(R)(CT)(ARRT) 
Nicholas M. Jannetty, RT(R)(CT)(ARRT)