Five-Minute Fix


Taking, Organizing, and Using Effective Notes

By Tannus Quatre, PT, MBA

Everyone takes notes, but making them useful requires a process that is efficient and organized. Whether for team meetings, phone calls, interviews, or more, capturing information for later retrieval is key to the successful use of your time. While anyone can jot down notes on a piece of paper, making those notes useful to your practice requires organization and planning.

Here are some simple fixes to make your note taking an efficient and worthwhile endeavor:

  • Designate a notebook. Having a specific notebook used only for note taking allows you to have a single resource at the ready when note taking is required, and helps to keep notes organized until they are permanently archived. Compared with the use of anything and everything capable of accepting ink from a pen, designating a notebook is likely (more than) half the battle if your goal is to make better use of your notes.
  • Use a consistent format. Many of us do not like to “color inside the lines,” but when it comes to note taking, organization is key to the quick retrieval of information. Using a consistent header including topic, date, time, and attendees may be all you need to keep your notes easily accessible.
  • Organize your notes. After taking notes, organize your notes according to topic and date. This task can be as simple as moving each sheet of paper to a secure filing cabinet, or it may mean filing in a binder or other container that allows for convenient storage and retrieval.
  • Go electronic. If feasible, taking your notes in electronic format using a computer or mobile device adds advanced functionality with regard to searching for information contained in your notes. Electronic dictation software makes this even more of a possibility, speeding up the note-taking process for many users. For those who prefer pen and paper, the electronic scanning of documents into an organized folder structure or document management system can also ease the organizational burden associated with storing and retrieving important notes.

Tannus Quatre, PT, MBA, ATC, CSCS, lives at the intersection of physical therapy and entrepreneurship, spending his time helping physical therapists build and operate successful practices through his company, Vantage Clinical Solutions. He specializes in marketing, finance, and business planning, and authors and speaks regularly for the APTA and PPS. He can be reached at

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