5 Ways To Take Your Note-Taking To The Next Level

Posted by Portage Notebooks on Oct 2nd 2018

Posted October 1, 2018

When you’re scribbling down the finer points of Dr. Taylor’s lecture on underwater basket weaving or drawing doodles to show your boss you’re paying attention during a never-ending presentation, you’re probably not considering how you take notes.

But if you’ve found that the notes you reread are tiresome, useless, or even too boring for your taste, there’s a world of ways you can ramp them up. (And if you aren’t convinced that adults post-college take notes, know that notes not only improve your memory, but also lead to more success in the office.)

Here are five of our favorite ways to spice up your notes:

1. Shop around for a method that really works for you.Sure, there are plenty of fads that you’ve seen on Buzzfeed, like bullet journaling. But there are tons of easier ways to take engaging notes that you might not even know about.

Three classics are often considered the crème de la crème, and are a great place to start experimenting.

The Cornell method is a highly detailed system best used for particularly dense material. (For example, your coworker’s quarterly presentations.)

The mind map method is a much more visual system that works well for less detailed notes. Plus, it’s easy to learn how to use.

Probably the most popular method of all, the outlining method works well for any subject that doesn’t involve a lot of charts or graphs. It’s easier than it seemed when you learned it in high school, we promise.

2. Get visual. It’s a well-known fact that most of us—65%, in fact—are visual learners. So why not throw some images into your notes?

Okay, most of us aren’t great artists. But luckily, no one besides you is going to sift through your notes to laugh at your lopsided drawings.

So if you want to remember that Joe-who-wears-the-beanie is going to be in charge of a new department, sketch him out next to a statement about the announcement. If you tend to forget how to conjugate your Spanish verbs, make a chart. If your company’s revenue is growing at 2% now versus 5% last year, throw in a graph. These visual aids will help highlight important information and simplify recall.

And don’t forget the avid note-taker’s favorite way of making his or her notes shine: color-coding. Best for dense subjects that need a bit of wrangling, color-coding is a tried and true method for the ladies and gentlemen who want to go the extra mile.

3. Switch up your medium.When you’re not quite satisfied with your note-taking, it may be a good idea to shake up your tools.

If you often find yourself looking at your ex’s vacation photos on Facebook instead of typing away at your outline, ditch the keyboard for a pen to limit distractions. If your handwritten notes are close to unreadable, try switching to your laptop.

Sometimes smaller changes work, too. If you’re tired of lugging around your large journal, try a smaller size notepad. If you’re looking to shake your style up, use a retro reporter’s notebook.

Branching out can lead to some awesome discoveries—or make you appreciate what you were using in the first place.

4. K.I.S.S.As your high school writing teacher would say, Keep It Simple, Stupid. In other words, taking your notes to the next level can sometimes mean embracing a little less mess.

If you’ve been trying to bullet journal and find yourself spending way too much time using a ruler to draw straight lines, consider using a simple graph notepad instead. If jotting down a mind map gets you lost during revision, try the more streamlined Cornell method instead.

Whatever you do, don’t forget that note-taking is supposed to relieve the stress of remembering things later—not cause you a headache in the process.

5. Set up a day for review.It’s true and you know it: even though you may take the most beautiful, illustrated, color-coded, straight-lined notes in the world, there’s a large chance you don’t actually read them.

So schedule 30 minutes of dedicated review into a recurring calendar invite or pencil in a reminder to your agenda. You’ll thank us when you receive your next raise.

Interested in kick-starting your improved note-taking skills with a new notepad? Check out some of the top-rated options on the market.