Taking notes is one of the ultimate tools for success.
Notes help you remember things, they are great for review at later times and with digital note-taking platforms such as Evernote can even be searched.
Taking notes is an active form of learning and storing of knowledge. The very act of taking a note increases your likelihood to learn the material better and store the information in a way that means you are more likely to remember it.
What do the best people at note taking do? Why do they do it? How do they do it?
They make a note taking system.
You don’t need to take notes with full sentences. You can take small shorthand notes. If you are only taking notes on every word, that is being said you are not gaining all of the benefits of truly learning the information. Forcing yourself to think and parse down what is being said requires an extra level of thought and that in turn forces you to learn the information.
You need to find a system that works for you. The best way to do that is practice taking notes. You’ll find the ways that work best for you.
Whatever method and system you use stick with it. You’ll find results will come easier.
They know how to organize notes.
Keeping your notes organized is important. Those who are the best at taking notes have a system for storing them and referring to them later.
You can use file cabinets, notebooks, binders and even digital solutions to organize better your notes.
When I take handwritten notes, I will take pictures of them and save them to Evernote. By saving them to Evernote, I can tag them and even search them later and I know that I have them on all of my devices.
No matter what system you use for organization be sure to stick with it. Taking notes is great but when you need to come back and look at them later having a system will make it possible to retrieve the information quickly then. If you want more information on how to get organized with Evernote check out this post I wrote.
Those who take the best notes from lectures, conferences, discussions and panels are those who are looking for cues.
When you are listening to someone, they often offer clues that you can use to help determine what you should be writing down.
Sometimes the speaker will use a different inflection, they’ll pause after making a point or they will repeat a point. Those are excellent cues that the information being given should be written down.
They take additional notes.
Only asking for a copy of the professor’s notes or notes from the company meeting won’t be enough to help you retain the information.
The act of writing your own notes, adding additional context or information is what helps you truly learn it.
Just copying notes or taking the notes doesn’t challenge your mind. It doesn’t require you to exert any additional brain power so it isn’t as effective.
Take a copy of those notes and annotate them with your own. Rewrite them if you have the time and the need.
They are always prepared to take notes.
The people who are always ready to take down a note are the ones who will be the most successful.
If you have the ability to take down ideas and jot down discussion thoughts immediately you are able to be actionable on them later.
If you have the ability to take down ideas and jot down discussion thoughts immediately, you are able to be actionable on them later.
It is easy to forget new ideas or thoughts before you have a chance to determine what the next action to take is. If you are always ready to write things down somewhere (notebook, Evernote, anything) you’ll have better chances of remembering it and later when reviewing your notes you can create goals for them.
They learn more from reading.
People who are taking notes while reading will find that they not only retain the material better but that they are more focused on finding the main points to highlight in a note.
When I read a book, I often will take notes. I find that forcing myself to take notes not only helps me learn the material but that I am more focused on the material.
I don’t want my notes to suck so I pay more attention and spend more time trying to determine what I am supposed to take away from the material.