Let’s face it, we’ve all moaned and groaned whenever our teacher or professor told us that we needed to take notes during class. I know my least favorite was having to take Cornell notes in IB Biology. Funny thing is, I’m actually a really good note taker and have grown to love it. Why? Because I found what worked best for me and applied it. Here’s the thing about taking notes. They’re for YOU to understand a topic or subject better. It doesn’t need to make sense to anyone else but you. Below you’ll find things that I have found works very well for me and have adapted to my life. Feel free to take or change any tip or trick you find below, or an even better idea, share a few of your own!
1. Paper or Tablet?
To some this might not seem like a big deal, but trust me, a lot of people have a preference. I personally like both, so here’s a few pros and cons from my perspective.
A few pros that I found with taking notes the old fashioned way is that it allows more room for creativity. You can write things out, you can draw pictures or animations to help you remember things better, and you can always doodle. Also, when it comes to using pen and paper, you can always find them anywhere (unless you’re picky about your supplies like I am. We’ll get to that later). Not only that, there are so many options when it comes to notebooks and pens! Like I said, we’ll get more in-depth about that later.
A few cons with taking notes this way are the obvious ones. I’m a detailed note-taker so I often get hand cramps at times. I also feel like sometimes I miss things because I like to take things down word per word, so while I’m focusing on what I’m trying to write down I’m missing what the teacher or speaker is saying. Lastly, my notes sometimes tend to get messy which I do not like…hence digital notes.
Below: Being able to draw and also good use of color, font and sizes.
My favorite thing about taking notes on my iPad is the fact that I can keep up with the speaker. Also if I make a mistake, it’s super easy to erase, fix or correct. I personally use Microsoft OneNote. It allows me to have multiple notebooks in one place which is great for organization. OneNote also allows me to take notes using my apple pen and insert pictures and drawings too. Like other programs, OneNote can also sync to other devices, such as your phone or desktop.
My least favorite thing about using technology to take notes is the possibility of it lagging, malfunctioning, or simply dying on you. That, and I’m not that tech-savvy so my creativity isn’t as strong on a tablet as it is on paper.
Above: Microsoft OneNote is the purple app icon.
Below: You can find all of my different notebooks all the way on the left. When you click on a notebook it’ll open up to the different pages.
2. Ask Questions
When you’re reading a book or an article for homework, I highly suggest taking notes to retain the important information. While doing this, ask yourself questions or jot down any that you may have so that you can look up the answer later or ask your teacher or classmate the next day. One of the main things that I always jot down are words that I may not know the definition to. Remember, these are YOUR notes. They’re meant to help you understand and learn better, so ask away. The more you ask, the more answers you’ll receive, and the better you’ll understand.
3. Highlighters, Post-It’s and Colors!
These are a few supplies that are a must for me when I take notes.
I use these a lot when I’m reading. Highlighters are a huge help when it comes to identifying key information. I also use these when taking notes to highlight different sections of my notes, just so when I go back to look over them I know where to find something in particular.
- Post-It Notes
I love Post-It’s! To me, they’re a great identifier like the highlighters. They come in handy when you’re reading a textbook and want to highlight information but can’t write in the book. I also love that you can use these bad boys as little memos to yourself about assignments or upcoming tests. Not to mention that there are so many different types of post-it notes! They’re so fun to collect!
I am a pen person. I love colors and when it comes to taking notes I love to color coordinate. It’s just appealing to my eye and it makes me want to take notes and actually look back over them afterwards. I use different colors to identify sections in my notes, write a definition, or if something’s just really important and I need to retain it.
Above: The main supplies in my bag. I recommend finding supplies that you like or feel will work well for you. It can even be simple No. 2 pencils. Remember, you don’t need to have all these options to take good notes.
Below: Another example of how I use colors to separate sections in my notes, along with different text sizes as well.
4. Personalize Your Notes
I am no longer a student at school, but I am a student of life and the notes shown above and below are from church sermons, meetings/trainings, or personal reading. One thing I’ve picked up over time is personalizing my notes with information that I feel either really resonates with me, is something that I need to improve on, or it’s something I need to continue doing. I found that by doing this I was connecting myself to the information that I was learning and by doing this it also helps bring the information to life. I encourage you to do that with your notes, school related or not. Being able to connect something to a life event really helps you to remember information better.
Above: These are notes from a meeting where I just needed to speak to myself a bit more. I always use a pink highlighter or pen when doing this because it’s my favorite color so it’s more personal. Also, it’s an easy and consistent identifier for me.
Last, but not least. Go over your notes. There’s no point in taking these amazing notes if you’re not going to use them. There’s a reason why you took them in the first place. The more you go over them, the better you’ll retain the information and the more prepared you’ll be going to class and when a test comes up.
Well, there you have it. Five simple tips and tricks that I’ve found to help me with my note-taking. Please, if you have anything you’d like to share to help better each other’s note-taking skills, feel free to do so. We’re all here to help one another succeed.
Thanks for stopping by today! I know some of you have already started school, and we’re declaring a blessed and prosperous year for you! May God use you in mighty ways and may you continue to let His light shine through you. Don’t ever forget who you are, and that’s God’s beloved.