ArborVS - The Smarter Way To Work
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ArborVS - The Smarter Way To Work

The art of record taking – and how to save time

“Got it all down, then?” a colleague joked after seeing my furious scribbling during a long, complex meeting. “Yes, made a few notes but it’s all in here [digital recorder].” I was relieved it was on tape . . . there were loads of good quotes, facts and figures, and I would be lucky to grab the speaker long enough later to have it explained again. My shorthand was poor and now I just had to transcribe it . . .

Just? The writer in that story spent several hours painfully starting, stopping and restarting the recording to jot down verbatim what had been said. He didn’t want to misquote the speaker or get the facts wrong – he was a journalist, after all. But what he hadn’t done beforehand was rough out specific enough questions to gain the information he needed without the interviewees going off track. The result: hours of extraneous material to sift through on tape and then cross-reference with his handwritten notes.

Advice on how to take notes

And then you have to ask just how useful were those notes? There’s plenty of good advice on efficient note-taking:
• Why note everything? Write down what’s news to you and leave the rest – you know it.
• Forget keyboards, stick to paper. You will seem more involved to your colleagues and – more importantly – your clients. Then take the “paperless office” idea to a new level by snapping your jottings with your phone, emailing the pics to yourself, and setting up your own, easy-access digital record – not a notepad in sight.
• Keep things organised. Date and title every entry; keep all sets of notes in the same book; keep a marker pen handy to remind you of key comments, facts, revelations, killer quotes; learn shorthand or devise your own system . . . anything to make your access to notes faster, easier and more efficient.

The power of a digital recorder – or smartphone

Sometimes, though, we can’t avoid information overload. Whether it’s writing up meetings or conference speeches, making notes during an on-site inspection, or holding conversations on the hoof or on the road, a digital recorder or smart phone recorder can be a godsend as they miss nothing – and many recorders let you make a digital note of key sections or quotes. But it all takes time – and what if you’re a poor typist as well. It’s time you could be spending selling, writing, marketing, schmoozing with clients . . . anything, in fact, to earn you money faster than transcribing that tape.

And it’s that precious commodity which we at @rborVS, the virtual PA service based near Watford, can help you save in spades. We will convert your digital recordings into word-for-word documents, précis them, or turn them into easily accessible minutes and all within a 48-hour turnaround, completely confidential, and delivered on time.

Please call us, @rborVS, on 01923 521021 or 07747 024607, or email

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