When I was in high school and college, I was a judicious note taker. I made a sort of an art out of it. I had multi-colored pens, and each color had a particular meaning to me. I would jot down just about everything the instructor would mention, as well as any notes on the board or important tips from slides. The result was spiral bound goodness, brimming with colorful pages of knowledge.
Now that I've been in "the real world" for a while, I've noticed that my note taking is not just less colorful, but almost useless. In most meetings I attend, I rarely jot anything down. I have the pad and paper there mostly to show respect to whomever called the meeting (rather than offend them by being honest and showing that I have no intention of taking notes). It isn't that the discussion isn't always noteworthy, it's just that there are so few new thoughts that come up in a meeting that I can remember them without notes. The notes I do take are mostly for show, again, just to humor the speaker. In nearly all cases I end up with a couple of scraps of paper that I'll NEVER reference again.
And here is where the real trouble comes... I'm a pack rat. I HATE to throw things away. And to throw away notes, well, let's not even discuss it. After all, if it was worth jotting down (referring back to school days), then it MUST be important. Unfortunately, now I have these worthless notes littering my desk that I don't want to throw away. In my mind I'm thinking, "Well what if so-and-so asks if I recall a previous discussion". That never happens.
The only notes that I really do care to take and keep are the ones with contact information, calendar appointments, and task lists. These usually end up scattered across a variety of the bad notes, and are in no way organized. If I'm sitting at my desk, I'm pretty good about entering them into Outlook, but otherwise they end up scattered across lots of scraps of paper. I'm considering getting a PDA to better organize these, but I'm afraid that I'll just be pissing away $400 on a toy I use for three weeks, and then forget.
Has anyone else noticed this futility in note taking in the real world? Do you actually use the notes you take now? If you have a PDA, is it useful?