How to Take Notes Effectively – Most Effective Methods

How to take notes effectively

The ability to take notes effectively will come in handy throughout your life. It’s an important skill whether you are summarizing study material, taking notes during lectures, or having to quickly write down information during in-person interviews.

If you want to learn how to take notes effectively then we invite you to read on. Our guide will teach you how to take the best notes and stay structured.

Why It Is Important To Take Good Notes

Taking note

The ability to quickly identify the most important information and to write down this information in a clear and succinct way is an invaluable skill because it offers so many benefits. Here is a quick look at some of the best reasons to improve your note-taking skills.

Improves Grades

Knowing how to take notes effectively can improve your grades. This is because your notes will enable you to accurately reflect, repeat, and remember what you learned. The ability to summarize information from videos, textbooks, and other sources can also help improve grades because you will be able to focus on the most important content and avoid wasting time on information you already understand or that might not be necessary during grading.

Eases The Learning Process

Taking notes makes the learning process a lot easier. When you take notes, the information you document is written down in your own words. Essentially you are explaining information to yourself in a way your brain can easily process.

Since the content you’re learning is now written down in your own words, it becomes much easier to remember.

The learning process is also eased because you will be able to focus on the most important aspects and filter out content that might not be necessary to remember.

Helps You Study More Effectively

Repetition is key to remembering information. By taking notes, you are repeating the most important notes in your brain. When you re-read your notes later on, it will be a secondary repetition. While expanding or elaborating on a note that you took in haste, you are repeating information for a third time. By the time your actual studies begin, you will have already repeated the information to yourself three times and you should start to remember some of the key concepts.

However, this process may only be effective if you repeat your notes within 24 hours after taking them. If you wait too long, you might forget important information and be left with lots of blanks.

Enhances Active Listening and Focus

Taking notes while listening to lectures or watching videos can make it easier to actively focus and listen to the instructor.

While writing notes, your brain will stay in active learning mode and you will remain focused on the information that is shared instead of wandering away to other distractions.

For enhanced focus, it is best to keep sentences short and to the point, and to try to replace some context with symbols or phrases so you won’t miss out on information while taking notes that are too detailed.

Gather Accurate Information

Your mind may start forgetting important details shortly after hearing the information. Memories can become blurry and twisted and you might start confusing some aspects like dates, names, or scenarios.

When you know how to take notes effectively, you can be sure that the information you are reviewing or trying to recall is accurate.

How To Take Notes Effectively

Woman taking notes in notebook

Anyone can scribble down information they hear during a lecture. The issue comes when you have to make sense of the information you wrote down a few days or weeks after the session. At this point, you may have forgotten most of the information.

Your notes serve as the key to unlocking the information you processed during a lecture, meeting, or video demonstration.

If your notes are too brief, random, or unorganized, you may have a hard time putting things back into perspective or your mind won’t be able to make the connection between the note and the information your brain processed.

There are a few different strategies that you can try to learn how to take notes effectively. Here are some of the best methods.

The Cornell Method

The Cornell Method is a popular note-taking method that was developed by a professor who worked at Cornell University during the 1940s. Let’s take a look at how this method works.

First, start by creating columns on your note paper. Write the heading “Notes” in the right-hand column. In this column, you will be writing down the most important details. This can include details like names, concepts, dates, or definitions.

The left-side column can be used to write down questions, key phrases or ideas that relate to the information in the right-hand column.

Create a “Summary” section at the bottom where you can capture the main theme of the lesson in three simple sentences.

The Mapping Method

Visual learners tend to prefer the Mapping Method because it includes more graphics that can help them connect and remember specific concepts. Let’s explore how to use this method.

First, write down the key phrase of the main topic and write it down in a frame, box, or bubble in the middle of the page. Let’s say our key phrase is Nicholas Tesla.

Next, you can write a summarized phrase or short sentence that gives more information about the key phrase and draw a line from this information on the box you created in the center of the page. Draw a circle around this phrase. Let’s say our circle has the phrase “occupation.”

Write down facts or critical details that directly relate to the idea or concept that you circled. This can be noted underneath the circle or you can circle it and draw a line to your information circle. Let’s say you include titles like inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, and futurist in this bubble.

Keep repeating this step until you have the most important information summarized on a single visual page.

The Outline Method or Bullet Method

This note-taking method is ideal for students with a linear and detail-oriented thought pattern. It can also be a good option for those who prefer more structure than the Mapping Method might provide. Here is a quick look at how this method works.

With the Outline or Bullet Method, you will be using numbers, bullets, letters, dates, or incidents to organize your information while taking notes during class.

First, start by writing down the main idea. This can be labeled as “1.”

In the next line, you can add a point that relates to the main idea and label these main points as A, B, C, and so forth.

You can then proceed to add bullet points between A, B, and C and list other important highlights that relate to these main points.

These steps can be repeated until you have all of the key details listed.

Other Important Note-Taking Tips

women taking note

Taking notes can be a challenge when you are stressed, pressed for time, or when you need to remember a lot of information. Here are some strategies that can help you condense your notes and make them easier to categorize.

Write Notes Longhand

Digital devices make it easier than ever to record, type, or take digital notes. While this can be a good strategy for getting lots of information on paper, it doesn’t help the learning process as much. You are much more likely to remember something if you are handwriting your notes the old-fashioned way.

It doesn’t matter if you are writing down notes on paper or on a tablet with the help of a productivity app. As long as it is a handwritten note, you are much more likely to remember the content.

Use a Blue Ink Pen to Take Notes

Experts believe that the color of the ink you use can have an impact on your ability to remember. Black ink is the most popular color because it is considered more professional. Blue ink, however, is better for memory since this color enhances memory retention and cognitive functioning.

Be Prepared

It is always good to arrive fully prepared to take notes. Scurrying around to find a piece of paper or pen can make you feel all stressed and can push your brain into survival mode. The best way to stay prepared is by carrying a notebook, folder, or book bag with you to classes or lectures. This kit should be equipped with pens, pencils, a highlighter or two and lots of paper so you can write with ease.

If you prefer devices for taking your notes, then it is best to invest in a good quality tablet with a digital pen. Apps like Evernote allow you to easily take notes with pen or via typing.

Use Symbols and Abbreviations

Create your own vocabulary of symbols that can replace common words. This can be a very useful tip when you have a lot of class notes to take in a short span of time. Symbols or abbreviations can be used to shorten words or sentences so you won’t have to write everything out when taking solid notes in class.

While creating symbols, you should be consistent or you can end up forgetting what your symbols mean.

Draw Pictures, Maps, or Diagrams

Visual learners often remember a lot better when they can create maps, diagrams or drawings that will help them capture certain concepts that might be difficult to describe. This map or drawing can always be elaborated at a later time, but it will still serve as a key note for something important.

A Final Note

Learning how to take notes effectively may take some practice. It is going to take some time to identify and develop a strategy or learning style that works for you. This process will, however, benefit you for the rest of your life in various situations.

We hope that you found this guide helpful and that you will soon become a master note-taker. If you are looking for more helpful study guides or tips that can enhance productivity then we welcome you to keep an eye on our site. At Top Productivity Apps, we are constantly sharing the latest and best methods that can make life a little bit easier.

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