How to Take Better Notes to Be More Successful

5 Effective Ways to Capture Information That Will Support Your Learning Style

Knowing how to take better notes can help us remember or reference things later to have more success.

While it may seem unimportant, learning how to take better notes is a useful skill to develop.

Why is it Important to Learn How to Take Better Notes?

Taking better notes is important because it will:

  • Help improve our ability to recall and understand what we’re learning or want to remember.
  • Lead to less stress especially when we have to reference something from the past.
  • Improve our listening skills.
  • Help our ability to focus on the present moment.
  • Improve our creativity as we’ll learn how to connect topics or points discussed.
  • Make us more productive, efficient and effective because we’ll have a system for capturing and recalling information.

Situations Which Require You to Take Better Notes

We have many situations where knowing how to take better notes can be a huge advantage. These include:

  • Learning and studying.
  • Brainstorming Sessions.
  • Team meetings.
  • One-on-one meetings and interviews.
  • Educational settings such as conferences, seminars or training programs.

As we improve our ability to take better notes, we’ll gain more confidence to apply what we need. This will lead to more intelligent actions, which will help us achieve the success we want.

how to take better notes

During my formal education, I did not learn how to take better notes. In high school, when asked to summarise chapters from textbooks, I remember writing paragraphs of text. That did not support my learning style, however I continued with that practice because I didn’t know any better.

While at university, I learned how to use process maps, which helped especially during exams. However, I wished I knew other techniques. Having a variety would have given me options to choose from, depending on the situation I was in.

5 Ways to Take Better Notes

This short video explains four of the methods mentioned below.

1. The Mapping Method

This can include mind mapping or process mapping. This is best used when needing to show something visually or sequentially. It’s also useful to present information in a structured form.

Pros of this method:

  • Supports visual learning.
  • Easy way to remember and connect topics or points.
  • Helpful way to break down detailed information into easy-to-follow steps.

Cons of this method:

  • A page can get cluttered easily with many components.
  • May lead to confusion if relationships between topics or points are not accurate.
  • Not helpful to those who do not prefer a visual representation of information.

2. The Cornell Method

This is effective when needing to organise notes into summaries.

Pros of this method:

  • A quick way to take and organise notes.
  • Speeds up reviewing of notes.
  • Can summarise notes efficiently.

Cons of this method:

  • Need to prepare page(s) a certain way, ideally prior to taking notes.
  • Can take time to get used to this method and feel comfortable using it.

3. The Outline Method

This method uses heading and bullet points to organise points or topics. It’s best used when breaking down a lot of information into sections.

Pros of this method:

  • Captures information in a sequential order.
  • Easy to follow and organise.
  • Helps when reviewing and editing.

Cons of this method:

  • Does not support visual learning.
  • Not ideal if information isn’t presented in order or with a structure.
  • Not suitable if information isn’t text-based.

4. The Charting Method

This is best when there is a lot of technical information like statistics or facts. In this method, information is organised in columns.

Pros of this method:

  • Information is structured clearly.
  • Supports memorising information quickly.
  • Good for capturing and reviewing technical information.

Cons of this method:

  • It can be time-consuming to capture information.
  • Not suitable if information isn’t structured well.

5. The Sentence Method

This method is simply writing topics or points in sentence form. This works well in fast-paced situations or learning environments where information has to be captured quickly.

Pros of this method:

  • No learning curve.
  • Can capture a lot of information quickly.
  • Notes are simple and easy to review.

Cons of this method:

  • Not visually appealing as it’s all text-based information.
  • Difficult to form connections between topics or points.
  • Does not support effective recall.

Conclusion

With the amount of information available today, knowing how to distil them to what’s essential is important. If we can process information better, we can speed up the success we want to achieve.

If we don’t learn how to take better notes, we may disadvantage ourselves as we deal with more and more information every day.

Action Step: Choose the method that’s most suitable to your learning style and use it next time you have to take notes. Continue practicing using different methods so you have different options for different situations.

Question: What are other techniques to take better notes to be more successful?

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