Taking notes is not taught in school. This is actually surprising since this is the most basic skill that we use – whether in school or in the office. Students need to listen to their instructors while taking down notes so they do not forget what is being discussed. Outside the school, we need to know how to take notes properly especially when we are in meetings.
The thing is, not everyone figures out how to take good notes. It does not come naturally for us. While the skill of writing and listening can be honed, it takes a special kind of skill to know what notes to take and what to skip.
Helpful tips to improve note-taking skills
Fortunately, there are a couple of helpful tips that will make taking notes easier to accomplish. But before anything else, you need to ask the instructor if the lesson will be available elsewhere. If it is, you do not have to focus on taking too many notes. Instead, you can listen to what is being said. However, if the instructor does not confirm where you can get notes to the lesson, then you have to take your own notes.
- Use a new page for a new lecture. While putting the new notes under an old one will save paper, it might confuse you. Unless you can think of a marker that will help differentiate between lectures, putting it in a new page should help in organising your notes.
- Try to leave a small space beside your notes. This will allow you to write your thoughts while you are reviewing them. Comments or questions can be easily placed right beside the notes.
- Be brief with your notes. You want to be able to look at your notes and immediately know what it is all about. Learning how to write brief notes means using phrases instead of sentences. If you can use words instead of phrases, do that as well.
- Use abbreviations and symbols. This will also help in keeping your notes brief.
- Mark notes and words that you do not understand. This will remind you to come back to them so you can explore further.
- Familiarize yourself with the tone of the instructor. Usually, main points are spoken with a different cadence or tone. This will make it easier for you to know what to write.
Note-taking tips for handwritten notes
When taking notes, it is believed that doing it by hand is more effective because you are more connected to your mind as you do it. Retention rate is higher. If you are taking handwritten notes, here are some tips that will help you with it.
- Do not forget to write the date. This will help you remember what happened during the day. It will also help in the sequencing of your notes.
- Type what you have written. This might seem redundant but it will help you locate your notes easily. Not only that, it will help you remember the lesson more.
- File your notes properly. While you already have a digital copy, you should still keep your notes and do it in an orderly manner. This will help you backtrack when needed.
Note-taking tips for digital notes
Taking notes are actually more convenient because you are now able to make digital notes. But before you do that, there are a couple of tips that you need to remember.
- Make sure you create folders. Be organised with your digital files so you can find things easier. You can group your notes per semester, course, or date.
- Find the right app to take notes in. There are so many applications that you can use. Some have to be downloaded, others are in the cloud. Choose the right app that suits your note taking style.
- Cite your sources. When you are using digital notes, you need to make sure you cite sources or take note of sources that the instructor gives you. This will give you a reference in case you want to study further.
Consider these tips when taking notes so you will not miss anything in the lesson.