Some of you have requested that I show you my note taking technique. This is in no way a proven technique, but it really works for me and many of my professors have applauded my structure. So try it, and if you like it and it works for you, great! If not, I commend you on having a more structured system! These are my general rules when I take notes:
1. Leave space. A lot of space.
While going through previous notes, whether it be right after class or a month later, I always found that I had information that I wanted to add, and cramped pages never allowed for that. Plus, it’s a bit less daunting on the eyes when there is some room between ideas. I do realize that this is not very eco-friendly, but hey!
2. Use the margins in a smart way.
I have developed a “legend” of symbols to draw in the margins so that when I need a quick scan of what pages in the textbooks I referenced or vocab, I can find what I need easily. It might not seem useful on this one page, but when you have a whole 3″ binder full of notes, it’s a blessing.
3. Write on one side of the page.
Again, not a eco-friendly option. However, I’m sure there are those of you (my past self included) who have wished you just had another page to write down book notes or additional thoughts without having to get a fresh paper. This solves that!
4. Make it pretty later.
I know this page is visually appealing, but keep in mind that I was in my nice warm room by myself and listening to music while writing this. My notes straight out of class aren’t color coded and they definitely don’t have cute little decorations on them; just get the information down, worry about aesthetics later.
5. Put yourself in the classroom.
You might think: “but I’m physically in the room what the hell are you talking about”. The concept is weird but it works. I always try everything I can to make sure I place as many visual cues in my notes as I can so that when I look back on them later I remember exactly where I was and what was happening. Are you not paying attention and thinking of food? Write it down. Did someone fart? Write it down. Placing yourself in the room is the most beneficial thing you can do for future you.
6. Keep it short.
I can’t tell you how many times I freaked out when I first got to college because I was trying to write everything down. I was certain I was going to miss something. WELL HAVE I GOT NEWS FOR YOU. You aren’t going to miss anything if you keep your bullets to a minimum of one sentence. It’s proven that short phrases in your own words help memory better than full sentences that the professor gives you.
Finally, make it yours. This is a system that works for me because my brain is weird and can’t take notes the Cornell or outline way. The most important thing to learn in school is your own flow of things. Experiment, be creative! I hope I have helped those of you who aren’t traditional learners realize that there isn’t just one way to process information. If any of you have any questions or need specific examples, let me know! (I realize there is a typo on this but hey don’t worry about it) 🙈