Note-taking is a skill that is essential for anyone looking to organize thoughts, remember important information, or simply capture fleeting ideas. Whether you’re a student, a professional, or someone who loves learning, mastering the art of note-taking can significantly boost your productivity and comprehension. In this blog post, we’ll explore some effective note-taking tips and tricks to help you capture information more efficiently and effectively.

1. Review Regularly: It might be tempting to think that you understand everything after your lesson or lecture, but this is not the case. You need to set aside time to review and organize your notes to reinforce your understanding and improve retention. You will likely find that some sections of your notes might not make sense outside of the classroom or without a diagram. By reviewing your notes soon after the lesson, you can add in this information while you still remember it. Another reason to review regularly is so you can ask questions while you are still on the topic. For example, if you had done Section A three weeks ago, but you did not review your notes until your class was on Section F, it will likely not be relevant to ask questions about Section A. Whereas, if Section A was last lesson, you will probably not be disrupting the lecture if you asked a question about last lesson’s material.

2. Be Selective: One of the most common note-taking mistakes is that people think they need to write down every word their teacher or professor says. This is possible (not matter how fast you type or write). Note-taking is about capturing the most important information and ideas. You can fill in the details later when you are reviewing. 

3. Personalize Your Style: Everyone has their own style of doing things. It is no different with note-taking. Some people have different coloured pens for their ideas and the material that was covered. Others prefer to type, or write in pen. You will need to try different styles to be able to find the one that works the best for you.

Helpful Hint

Try a different style of note-taking in a course you are comfortable with. Do not try to experiment with styles when you do not understand the material, as this may give you a false sense that a style does not work for you.

4. Try Note-Taking Strategies: There are many different types of note-taking strategies available. Some examples include The Cornell Method, The Outlining Method, The Mapping Method, or The Charting Method. Each of these is slightly different, but overall tries to help achieve the same goal. Take some time to look over them and see if one of them speaks to you.

5. Incorporate Technology: Consider using note-taking apps or digital tools to make your notes more organized, searchable, and accessible.

6. Stay Engaged: Actively listen and engage with the material to identify key points and understand the main ideas. We have an entire blog post dedicated to active learning which you can review here.

7. Consider Volunteering Your Notes: Some Post-Secondary Institutions have a program to volunteer your notes to students registered with Accessibility Services. This is a nice way to make sure you keep your notes organized and legible (and you can help out a fellow student). You might even get a nice certificate from the Institution as a way of thanks.

In conclusion, effective note-taking is a valuable skill that can help you better understand, organize, and remember information. By adopting and adapting some of these note-taking tips to suit your needs and learning style, you can significantly enhance your productivity, comprehension, and retention of important information. If you choose to become a note-taking volunteer, you can help your colleagues while organizing your thoughts and ideas.


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