No matter how sharp your memory is, it’s impossible to remember all the details of your class lessons or office meetings if you don’t take notes.
Take note (pun intended!) that the level of your note-taking skills can affect the usefulness of your notes. That’s why you need to sharpen your note-taking ability — to boost the overall quality of your learning.
In this post, I’d like to share with you some strategies for improving your note-taking skills.
Keep reading to discover the most efficient ways to take notes and learn handy tips that will enhance your note-taking prowess.
Here’s How To Improve Your Note Taking Skills:
4 simple ways to improve your note-taking skills include using the right tools, focusing on the most critical points, creating a template, and staying organized. Continue reading to discover more in-depth information on improving note your note-taking skills…
It’s important to realize, however, that there is no best way to take notes.
The most effective notes, are notes that simply help you remember all the details you need to remember. This can be different for everyone. You may need to experiment with some techniques to find out what works best for your situation.
Importance of Note-Taking Skills:
Effective note-taking skills are an essential part of learning, recalling important things, and success. The habit of taking notes can help you improve your listening, understanding, and retention.
In effect, note-taking motivates you to pay attention and improve your focus during your school lecture or work meeting.
Afterward, your notes will enable you to remember and apply this information in constructive ways.
Can You Learn Without Taking Notes?
Now, you absolutely can learn without taking notes.
Some of us have the ability to grasp and understand topics immediately without the need to review them later. They can listen or watch an activity and get it pretty much right away.
In those cases, it is definitely possible to learn without taking notes.
Still, it can be argued that we can improve our learning quality by taking notes. Looking back at notes can help you get a more complete picture of what you learned.
Note-taking skills are vital to productive learning because they empower you to store, organize, and recall information you need for work or school.
Notes can serve as an “extension” of your brain, whether you prefer old-fashioned handwritten notes or modern digital notes. Taking notes and learning is actually great for the brain!
What Is the Most Effective Way To Take Notes?
There actually isn’t a “most effective” way to take notes.
There is, however, a most effective way for YOU to take notes. Now it’s just about figuring out what that is…
Similar to how we all learn different things in different ways, taking notes is very much alike. You will need to find a way that works best for you as an individual.
Some general tips that can help you take notes more effectively and boost your productivity as a student or professional include:
- Jot down the date, topic, place, and name of the speaker, as recommended by Dartmouth College.
- Start a new notebook page or digital document for each lecture or meeting for better organization.
- Write down key points of the speaker.
- Leave space after each key point if you plan to expand the section later on.
- Highlight the important sections so they will stand out among the rest of the content.
Today, we walk around with incredibly powerful devices in our pockets and bags.
Yup, I’m talking about your cellphone!
In most learning and professional environments nowadays, we work digitally. This has completely transformed the note-taking environment from good old pen and paper.
Now that we live in a digital world, you have the option to take notes using digital devices, such as a laptop, tablet, or smartphone.
- Digital note-taking is fast and efficient. Once you develop your typing skills, you have the potential to enter information quickly on your laptop or any gadget.
- This method minimizes hand strain. It is less strenuous on your hand to type on a computer or tablet than to write using a pen, especially over long stretches of time.
- This style is convenient. It allows you to make multiple copies of your documents which you can access using your other devices. It also enables you to print out your notes in case you want a physical copy as well.
- Digital note-taking is relatively expensive. Unless you already own one, you may need to purchase a laptop or other portable electronic equipment if you plan to take notes digitally regularly.
- This method is less tactile, so it may feel less personal and engaging than paper note-taking.
Traditional Note Taking
The traditional note-taking method involves using a pen or pencil to write down notes on a notebook or a notepad.
Taking notes in this manner is still highly effective and proves to be an excellent way to learn!
- This note-taking style is simple. You don’t need to boot up your computer or set up your other electronic equipment before beginning. You can simply start jotting down notes on paper right away.
- This method is cost-effective. Notebooks and pens are abundantly available and affordable. You don’t need to buy any fancy gadgets to take notes the old-fashioned way.
- Traditional note-taking limits the number of copies of notes you can create. Unless you scan or photocopy your paper notes, there is a chance that you might lose your information if your notebook gets misplaced or damaged.
- This method may cause physical strain on your hand. Your hand can cramp or ache when you take notes for long periods of time.
The Louisiana State University held a study to determine whether traditional note-taking or digital note-taking had a better impact on student’s performance in school.
The results revealed there were no major differences in terms of academic achievement among the students regardless of the method they used.
While each note-taking style has its own advantages and disadvantages, you have the freedom to choose which method personally works best for you.
Tips and Effective Techniques
These are some of the techniques that have helped me take notes in a better way. Follow these tips to improve your note-taking skills as well.
Focus On the Main Points
Don’t stress yourself out unnecessarily by attempting to write down everything. Just focus on the major points that your teacher or colleague is discussing.
The University of North Carolina Learning Center recommends that you simply list down names, dates, and other main keywords. You can go back to your notes to define the terms and fill in additional information gaps later.
Create a Template
It will be easier for you to write and review your notes if you make a template first.
If you are using the traditional style, jot down your notes using a similar format and structure. If you are going for the digital method, you can literally create a template document for each category of notes.
As you take more notes, you will acquire your own style and determine what works best for you.
You will develop patterns in your note-taking techniques. This is great as it will make you more efficient and help you learn better.
Organize Your Notes
Organizing your notes will help you save time when you are trying to find specific information about certain topics.
If you are taking notes the old-fashioned way, KidsHealth by the Nemours Foundation advises that you use a different notebook or section of a notebook for each class subject. This may be applicable as well for each office project.
In a modern way, you can create a different document for each school subject or work project.
These techniques will make everything easy to find and help you better understand what you truly want to remember.
Use Quality Tools
It’s worth investing in great tools so that you can take notes more swiftly and simply.
If you prefer traditional note-taking, buy pens that write fluidly and are comfortable to grip. Select notebooks with durable covers and good-quality paper.
If you are more comfortable with digital note-taking, download apps that will help you record and organize notes more efficiently. Subscribe to online storage services that allow you to access, view, and edit your notes across your different devices.
Consider purchasing accessories for your tablets, smartphones, and other portable gadgets to improve their note-taking input capabilities, such as Bluetooth keyboards, mouses, and digital styluses.
Start Sharpening Your Note Taking Skills Today
Whether you’re a student or a working professional, you can level up your learning productivity by improving your note-taking ability.
I hope these tips have encouraged you to improve your note-taking skills. Remember, there is no best way.
Whatever helps you remember and learn better is precisely what you want to be doing!
Just like note-taking is a skill that can be improved, learning is actually also a skill that can be improved!