Do you struggle with taking notes? Are you always losing track of important information?
There’s a reason why professionals spend hours every day writing down notes. It makes them smarter, faster, and more efficient. In fact, most experts say that taking notes is the single most effective way to learn new skills.
If you want to become a professional writer, speaker, musician, artist, entrepreneur, etc., then you must master note taking. This is how you get ahead in any field.
I’ve created a simple system that will help you master note taking in just minutes a day. And once you do, you’ll never forget anything again.
Taking Note Skills
Taking notes requires a high level of concentration and self-awareness. Many people first learn the skills required to take notes in class or while reading a book.
Many meetings have an agenda to keep discussion on track. Your notes should include action items for each point you hear, and you should listen for cues as well.
The best method of note taking is called charting. Here are some techniques to make your notes more effective:
Listen for cues
Effective listening techniques include listening actively for cues that indicate important information, such as repetition or changes in topic. These cues can help you determine what information is most important, what is not as important, or which information you should prioritize.
For example, when lecturers present a list, they are often pointing out that it is important to take note of it, or the lecturer may be giving a reason.
Good listening skills are essential for good note-taking. This includes recognizing signals that indicate important information and help you organize your notes.
For instance, teachers often write the material on the blackboard or print it in large letters. Students can use a simple symbol (OB) to identify board material, and they can use these symbols to help them remember what they heard and emphasized.
This helps them review their notes later and know if they misunderstood the message.
Write down everything on the board
One of the best ways to develop your taking notes skills is to observe your students. While writing on the board, notice which items are more salient and which are not.
In elementary school, it is sufficient to write everything down, but as students get older, they should start to distinguish between important points and less salient ones.
As a result, by high school, students should have a comprehensive record of what was said in class.
A good note-taking skill will help you do better on tests, papers, and research.
For example, if the teacher is writing notes on the board, students should jot down the main points of each class.
For example, a history teacher might mention a key Civil War battle, an example of dramatic irony, or a formula. Taking notes helps students stay focused during class because they know where to focus their attention.
While taking notes should be a natural extension of your personality and your learning style, it’s important not to overdo it.
Remember that the purpose of note-taking is to help you work better, not to waste time copying information. Instead, write down only the most important things.
Overdoing it means that you won’t have spare mental cycles to identify the most important parts and will have to wade through the extra garbage to find the information you’re seeking.
Charting style of note-taking
The Charting style of note-taking method focuses on keeping the notes simple and effective, and minimizes writing. The method allows you to easily identify different facts and compare their relationships.
However, it’s not as effective for students who don’t have the ability to memorize information on their own.
Instead, students can take notes using a charting method, which can be difficult to implement when you don’t know what you’re taking in.
The Cornell method was developed by Professor Walter Pauk at Cornell University. Many colleges recommend this method for its simplicity and ease of use. It is helpful for study and for identifying priorities.
The Cornell method requires that you create a document in a certain format, which consists of a header, two columns, and a footer.
This method is most effective when you’re taking notes during lectures that include fact-based information.
A mind map is a good choice if you’re a visual learner. Unlike traditional bulleted lists, mind maps help you visualize information. You can draw a mind map on your computer or create one on paper.
The notes will look like multiple different-sized boxes, allowing you to take deeper dives into subtopics and connect ideas from one to another.
The mind map feature is especially useful when you need to remember many important details.
While taking notes can be a tedious process, using the Charting style can help you make sure that your notes are legible. By using a charting style, you can review your notes later and share them with your fellow classmates.
In addition to a pen and paper, you can use a laptop to take notes while in class, so you can type them as well.
The main advantage of using a charting style of note-taking is that it helps you focus on important things, instead of cramming for information.
When you’re taking notes with a lot of facts and statistics, you’ll likely prefer to use the column format. This format will allow you to organize information using many columns, much like a spreadsheet or table.
Each column represents a specific category. This helps you compare different rows and makes it easier to organize data. When using the charting style, make sure to label each column as its own category.
Once you’ve done that, you can now combine all the different topics into one large chart.
Listening while writing down key points
Taking notes while listening is perfectly acceptable, and may even increase the benefit of the experience. Taking notes will help you clarify ideas and refresh your memory later. Here are some methods of writing down key points:
Try to summarize the speaker’s main points. If you can’t do this, ask for clarification and include examples when appropriate. This will help you remember the speaker’s main points.
Also, write down any words or examples he may use during the lecture. This way, you’ll have a better grasp of what he’s saying, even if you can’t understand it at the time.
Make sure to ask for clarification if necessary, because sometimes it’s hard to understand what someone is saying.