What’s an effective note taking method?
When you find an effective note taking method, what is the best way to use it?
What are the best ways for improving note taking skills while listening to a recording?
What are good note taking techniques for attending class lectures?
What’s an effective note taking method when attending speaker events?
In a hurry?
Below you’ll find my thoughts on Angelos Georgakis’ book. I have added my own thoughts, based on experience, to provide value for you!
What You Need to Know about an Effective Note Taking Method
These are questions that students and professionals often ask. Note taking is an important skill that you use throughout your life. I’ve presented an effective note taking method before, but I wanted to read How to Take Good Notes by Angelos Georgakis because it’s highly rated on Amazon. I wanted to find out for myself, if the book had contrarian information to what I believe. Or if it had information that I didn’t think of. After reading the very short book (takes less than an hour to read), I can say that it complements what I have already written.
Though the focus of the book is on taking notes while in class, the same information applies in other situations where you have to take notes while listening. The strategy that Angelos uses is an effective note taking method.
Before I present my thoughts on How to Take Good Notes, I wanted to say that whenever you find a system that works for you, you have to practice using it to become an expert. Using an effective note taking method frequently is no different.
The act of writing down information increases your chance of remembering it. Note taking is an active process that engages the mind. You have to listen intently to get the essence of the information. After you take notes, review them, because taking good notes is useless if you never refer to them. Defeats the purpose of taking notes in the first place. You will perform better on exams when you take good notes. Don’t take notes in a vacuum, link the information to what you already know. Or link it to previous notes. Reviewing your own notes is more effective than reviewing another person’s notes. The act of reviewing your notes strengthens what you are learning.
Often when you perform an action all the time, it becomes second nature to you, so you take it for granted. I take notes all the time, because I want to remember what I am hearing and reading. But also, I believe that I may be able to get a blog post out of it. In the book, How to Take Good Notes, Angelos Georgakis mentions that when you’re taking notes, you’re learning. That’s very true, but I have never thought of that before.
When you’re in a lecture, or in a meeting, or at a speaker event, more than likely, you are listening intently to what the speaker is saying. You’re performing multiple tasks at the same time, which are mentally demanding. In fact, scientists say that taking good notes can be as mentally demanding as playing chess. An effective note taking method leads to good study practices and improved learning. Note taking requires a lot of cognitive effort.
Process: Effective Note Taking Tips While Listening
- Listen to the instructor.
- Process the new information.
- Decide what is a main idea and sub ideas.
- Decide what to write down.
- You have to find the right balance between not writing too little or too much.
- Maximize the time you spend in class. Learn as much a possible.
You’re doing all of this while the instructor is moving right along. The steps in the process to take good notes translates into retrieve information from memory, create a strategy, then take action. When we’re taking notes, our working memory is doing two tasks at the same time – comprehending what you are hearing while writing down the information.
When you do not take notes while in a lecture, you understand more in the short-term and will likely get a higher grade if you’re tested right away. However, for delayed exams, you wouldn’t perform that great, because you would have forgotten most of the information.
Benefits of Good Note Taking Skills
Because good note taking techniques is so mentally demanding, you end up honing in-demand skills mentioned below. You face a problem of always deciding which information is important. You have to separate essential from non-essential information. This kind of rigor to your thinking, makes you a valuable asset.
- Better problem solving skills.
- Improved decision making.
- Working better with others.
What makes this even more exciting is that the three skills mentioned above, are among the top employability skills you need to thrive in the future. Complex problem solving is first on the list, coordinating with others is number five, and judgment and decision making is number seven. This is another reason to develop your note taking skills.
Big Secret to Improving Note Taking Skills
PREPARATION: Read about the topic before you attend the lecture. This allows you to take notes faster because you can pick out the main points faster. An alternative to reading is to watch a YouTube video on the topic. Perhaps you can find a documentary or an interview. This also acts as a motivating factor that increases your interest in the lecture. I’ve done this a few times before reading a book, but I’ve never done it before a lecture or speaker event.
Good Note Taking Strategies: Important Points
- The most important things are said first and last in a lecture. Don’t arrive late or leave early.
- Test yourself on all your notes, and never think the information is too easy and that you already know it.
- Use Cornell Note Taking System. Please refer to the image, so you know how to create the template.
- Look for words that tell you important information is coming or what to expect next:
- ‘What’s important here…’
- ‘An interesting fact is…’
- ‘The main idea here…’
- ‘The next topic will be…’
- ‘To sum up…’
- ‘To recap…’
- To organize information, listen for:
- Review your notes frequently to get the information into your long-term memory. When reviewing your notes:
- Try to recall the information without looking at your notes.
- Jot down ideas that come to you.
- Find examples to emphasize the information.
- Link what you are learning to what you already know?
- If you are a professional, note ways that you will use the information.
- Taking good notes is unhelpful if you do not review the information.
Tips for Taking Good Notes: Beware of the Curve of Forgetting
“Two thirds of what we learn vanishes from our brains within an hour,” according to research by German philosopher Hermann Ebbinghaus, reports Newsweek International in an article titled “Truly Total Recall.”
Ebbinghaus conducted some research and discovered that:
“Forgetting proceeds very rapidly during the first twenty minutes after learning. And, indeed, more than one-half of the material learned is forgotten during the first hour.”
To improve learning, review notes after you sleep on it. Sleep helps to consolidate the information. When reviewing, test yourself on the information. Make connections. Try to explain out loud what you’re trying to learn. Pretend you’re explaining it to another person. Review your notes regularly and never cram for an exam. If you review your notes the same day you take them, you will never find yourself in a situation where you have to cram information.
From time-to-time, evaluate your notes to determine the quality of your note taking. Do you make a lot of mistakes? Do you miss important information? Practice good note taking techniques because that’s how you get better.
Does, How to Take Good Notes by Angelos Georgakis Deliver on Its Promise?
Yes, it does! I found the information in How to Take Good Notes by Angelos Georgakis very useful. As you may know based on some of the blog posts I have written on note taking strategies, I conducted research on taking detailed notes. I learned a lot of the information that’s in this book. When I saw How to Take Good Notes by Angelos Georgakis om Amazon, I thought, “What does he know that I need to know?” That’s why I bought the book, and I learned new information. If you are looking for an effective note taking method, you’ll find lots of note taking strategies to use. I recommend that you get a copy.
A few years ago, Scott Young decided to work on MIT’s computer science curriculum. He developed a very active note taking system that allows you to engage with the information. I am going to be practicing his note taking strategies with the notes I have from participating in the Read the World Extreme Reading Challenge. I am diving into Scott’s system, and I can tell that it’s an effective note taking method. I think the critical piece of his system is connecting information. You can learn more about his Flow Based Note Taking here. Make sure you save a copy since link addresses change so frequently.