Notes, notes, and more notes. What do I do with an open-ended Notes tab?
The Notes tab is simply an open-form notepad, so my simple answer to that question is, “Do whatever you want!”
So the real question then is, “What are some best practices related to the Notes tab?”
These are my thoughts on this, which in this case are “super low value” because really, you should do whatever you want with this field!
From a technical perspective, the two Notes areas (the Tab and the window above the tabs) are exactly the same. Type in one and it updates the other. Therefore, Put the most important 3 lines at the top.
Here are some of the things that I have always recommended in training sessions that are super-helpful to have in those top 3 lines:
- If the contact has a deceased spouse–especially if you knew the spouse (e.g., they were a partner while alive)–then I put that information: “Husband (Fred) / Passed away 5/15/15“. I do this because I do not want to accidentally ask her about her husband!
- If their name has an unusual pronunciation that you want to remember: “Pronounced Flynnstun, not Flint-stone.“
- If there is some current event in their lives that I want to ask them about first thing when I next talk to them, such as:
- “Daughter Judy going to Genovia on mission trip, July 2018“
- “Elroy playing in marching band at Winter Olympics“
- “Calvin is engaged to Susie; wedding April 15th“
- “Planning Grand Canyon vacation summer 2018“
- “Granddaughter Sarah is expecting first child in May“
- “Lucy (wife) just started Master’s program in Counseling, September 2017; expects to graduate 2020“
- If they or I made a future commitment, I would of course schedule a task reminder, but it is good for me to see it in the Notes too because of the potentially long time frame and that I would see/talk to them before that time occurs:
- “Would consider increasing support after last daughter graduates from college, May 2019“
- “Asked me to stop by next time I’m in town” (too vague to have a real task assigned)
- Some people like to record the details from their past appointments here instead of using the individual History items. They do this for two reasons: (1) they can then scroll through all of that history on one screen instead of scrolling through a lot of non-appointment activity (see pics below) and (2) they can export this notes tab to a Getting to Know You form (links at bottom) or some other export.
I can definitely see why people do it this way. The disadvantage of recording appointments on the Notes tab are two-fold:
- You cannot search/filter/export the Appointment history
- You don’t capture the appointment on the “Last Visit” field
- When you do export your contact lists (Current Group | Export Current Group), the Notes field export could be enormous.
But those reasons are not strong enough to say “Don’t do it that way!” Because: YOU SHOULD USE TNT THE WAY IT HELPS YOU.
For me personally, I use the Notes field sparingly because of the way I frequently export my data and because I am obsessive about using the History log. Only 1/3 of my contacts have any Notes at all, and the average for them is just 15 words.
If you want to include your Notes in the Getting to Know You forms, re-read these blog posts:
Blog post: Getting to Know You (July 25, 2016)
Blog post: Getting to Know You More (Oct. 31, 2017)