Published on June 23rd, 2014 | by Samantha Levine1
How to Take Good Notes
Note taking. What an easy task right? Just listen in to your lecture/meeting, and write down some key points, and task complete. Right? Wrong. As simple as it sounds, it can be quite difficult to capture all your details; and whether every detail is necessary or not, having a solid foundation of notes to look back on has never been anything but beneficial. So, whether you’re reading a text book, or outlining your weekly conference call, here’s a few vital tips that can really make your bullet points count:
Create an Outline
If you’re going off a text book, this will be an extremely easy process. Use all the headers and sub-headers to help you section off your topics, and use bullet points to list out your facts/ideas.
For you conference callers, and work meeting types this can get quite tricky depending on who you’re talking with, and whether you have a stable connection. Sometimes people will talk fast, and sometimes they get off topic, so it’s always best to walk into your meeting with an agenda of items that you are ready to discuss about ahead of time.
Always Carry a Pen
To the tech savvy note-takers pounding away on your laptop keys, while you may be a fast typist, you should always be prepared in case something takes a turn for the worse, and your computer freezes, Wi-Fi fails, or if you encounter a very quickly dying battery. If this is your main method of note-taking and works out well, press on, but having a back-up pen and pad of paper has helped out many in pinch.
Record, Recite, and Remember
While not everyone can be so lucky to record a conversation for memory purposes, or even legal reasons; but if the opportunity is available, I highly recommend taking advantage of it. When it comes to important meetings/lectures, it’s always great to be able to go back over the conversation, and pick up any details you may have missed the first time around.
Compare and Contrast
A great tip that comes in handy for me a lot, is being able to compare my notes with others. For students, this is a great trick as everyone learns at a different pace. Much like being able to record your meeting, when comparing your notes you can see something that you might have missed earlier; or read it from a different point of view. (This could be a very big deal if you were to have misheard a piece of information before.)
This is by far the greatest tip of all when it comes to note-taking! Rewriting is extremely useful, as you get the chance to clean up any scribbles, abbreviated, or misplaced words and provide yourself with your content in a nice clean format, making it easier to study or remember the content for later.
Now with all that being said try to keep in mind as simple as it sounds to do, most notes are taken in a hurry; and this is where most people run into trouble. The best way to improve your note taking skills is through practice. The more notes you take, the more information you will be able to walk away with.