I put out a tweet earlier today that seems to have resonated with people.
The tweet was a result from a conversation I had with someone in IT. They were asking me about a decision made in a meeting they were not only in, but also setup. I was a little flabbergasted that he was asking me about what decision was made. "You didn't take notes?" was my first thought.
One of the best (if not the best) tips I've been given in IT, is to bring pen and paper. The idea being to write down instructions or jot ideas or action items or decisions in meetings.
Many years ago, shortly after landing my network administrator gig, I was being shown how to administer one of the many tools we have. As we started going through the tool, the senior in the room asked me why I didn't have a pen and paper. I didn't have an answer. I was then asked how I was expected to remember the instructions. Since then I've gone through hundreds of notebooks. At one point I had them categorized between instructions, troubleshooting, investigations, and a variety of other topics. I don't think there's a true way to take notes. Whatever is found to be the most effective.
For me, it's about step-by-step instructions, follow-up questions, and action items. For follow-up questions, I circle them so I need to go back. For action items, I use a rectangle. Step-by-step instructions are transferred to our documentation repository. Everything else is for remembering context or decisions later.
I take a notepad and two pens to every meeting. I leave my laptop at my desk unless I need to run a meeting. This is two-fold. I don't want to be distracted by the computer and writing things down is more effective for memory retention than typing. I bring two pens in case someone forgot their pen (makes a good impression) or one of mine explodes or stops working.
It's one of the most effective things you can do on a daily basis. If you want to dive into why it's important I recommend Career Tools A Notebook And A Pen episode. They also have several other's on how to take notes. It's what helped me refine my approach.