The Effective And Efficient Guide To Note-Taking Techniques

Note-taking is an important skill! Whether you’re doing it in a classroom setting, writing down what’s going on at a meeting, trying to learn from a demonstration or jotting down your own ideas, you’ll benefit much more if you can do it well. You might use a tablet, type on your laptop or scribble with a traditional pen and paper.

But do you often struggle to organize your notes or fall behind when note-taking? Keep reading to discover our top note-taking techniques today.

6 Note-Taking Techniques

No matter how you approach it you can follow these six note-taking techniques and tips to improve the depth and legibility of your notes.

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1. Hone In On Key Facts

Don’t make the mistake of trying to write down absolutely everything that you see and hear. You won’t succeed. Plus you’ll end up missing the next things that happen. This could decrease your ability to follow or understand the content.

Instead, do your best to pinpoint the main facts (especially if someone is giving a speech or a lecture) and focus on writing those down. Subheadings can be helpful here, as can bullet points.

The skill of identifying and noting key facts gets easier with practice.

If you particularly want to boot your abilities, try watching short talks online (e.g. TED talks) and noting down the key facts.

2. Ask Questions

If you’re making notes during a class or presentation, the chances are high that you’ll be given a chance to ask questions at some point. Since poor understanding dramatically diminishes your note-taking, make sure you take advantage of Q&A sessions to clear up ambiguities, press for more details, or ask for repetitions of points you didn’t quite get the first time.

When you know you’re going to get this opportunity, jotting down such queries is an important part of note-taking techniques. You can add quick answers once you’re able to ask your questions.

3. Use Color

Whether you use different colored fonts, pens or highlighters, you can use color to eliminate the need for further words in some cases. For example, if you’re taking notes about a project you need to do at the office, you could make red writing relate to teamwork, blue to things you need to do alone and green for things that you need to count on other people to do.

Just don’t spend so much effort making sure you use the right colors. You could actually lose the thread of what is being said! This tip is only useful if you can implement it in a time-saving way.

4. Use Some Form Of Shorthand

You don’t have to use the shorthand you see journalists using in movies. Instead, you can invent your own for the purposes of note-taking.

The main goal here is just to find a way of writing more quickly, using drawn symbols or abbreviations that you can identify later. So, make sure you stick to something consistent. Alternatively, write a key at the front of your notebook/top of your document so that you can come back later and double-check the meaning of individual instances of the symbols and abbreviations.

Your shorthand will develop with time, so be patient while you get used to using it.

5. Consider Mind Mapping

If you’re a visual type of person, making notes in a mind map may help you get more information down on the page at a faster rate. For example, you might write the main subject in the center, then various related points all around the page (with lines coming from them to indicate further related sub-points). Diagrams can also be appropriate sometimes.

The main thing to take from this tip is just that note-taking doesn’t have to always be about words alone. Experiment and see what works for you.

Some people even prefer doodling or drawing images instead of writing sentences. It all depends on your individual learning style and what works as a memory cue for you.

6. Organize Your Notes ASAP

Finally, once you’re done taking notes, you’ll find that you get a lot more out of them if you try to process them fairly quickly. In other words, don’t just close your document or toss your notebook in a drawer and then expect yourself to jump straight back into the topic several months later.

Instead, take a half an hour or an hour to consolidate the information you’ve written. Alternatively, back it up if it’s on a computer or tablet.

You might also want to snap a photo if the notes are in a notebook. That way, they’ll never be lost.

If you need to elaborate on any of the notes so as to jog your memory at a later date, do that and then file the notes away in a place they’ll easily be found.

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