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How to Take Notes While Reading

Note-taking: a powerful tool for learning

  • Notes extend your memories: writing can be seen as an external enhancement of your brain, allowing you to think more complicated thoughts and solve harder problems.
  • Notes enhance your focus: The act of taking notes ensures your mind isn’t wandering and facilitates deeper understanding of what you're reading.

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How to Take Notes While Reading

How to Take Notes While Reading

https://www.scotthyoung.com/blog/2019/01/29/take-notes-while-reading/

scotthyoung.com

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Key Ideas

Note-taking: a powerful tool for learning

  • Notes extend your memories: writing can be seen as an external enhancement of your brain, allowing you to think more complicated thoughts and solve harder problems.
  • Notes enhance your focus: The act of taking notes ensures your mind isn’t wandering and facilitates deeper understanding of what you're reading.

How to Take Notes While Reading

  1. Figure out your purpose.
  2. Choose a technique that maximizes your focus on what is most relevant for your purpose. 
  3. Decide whether to optimize for review or retrieval practice.  
  4. If you do need to go back into the text again and again, create clues in your notes that can help you find what you’re looking for faster.

Figure out your purpose

Ask yourself why are you reading:

  • What am I trying to remember? 
  • How am I going to use this information? (e.g. on a test, cited in an essay, etc.)
  • What do I plan to do with the notes later? Will you be studying off of them extensively? Or maybe you’re just taking notes to stay focused, and it’s highly unlikely you’ll look through them after?

Strategies for note-taking

  • Jot notes in the margin. These aren’t particularly searchable, but they allow you to reiterate the main idea.
  • Keep a small notepad on the side, take breaks each section to jot down the main ideas. 
  • Create flashcards. In the rarer situations where memorization of details is important, then a simple strategy can be to just create flashcards while you take notes. 

Review vs. Recall

Decide whether to optimize for review or retrieval practice. 

  • For docs you don’t plan to extensively study, review is the obvious choice. 
  • For texts you need to master perfectly, the Question Book Method (for big idea) or flashcards (for details) saves time.

Creating Clues for Future Searches

  • Digital: systems like Evernote, make note-taking easier. Although, even the simple note-taking features on Kindle can work quite well.
  • Paper:  you can even put little sticky tags on the book to mark passages that refer to that.

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Note Taking - Starter Tips

Preparation steps before a note-taking session:

  • Try to get familiar with the topic that is going to be discussed, beforehand. This leads to better understanding.
  • M...
Outline Method

Taking a structured approach to note-taking is the best way. Put the outline notes by choosing four or five key points of the lecture, followed by in-depth sub-points. One way to review is to use the Cornell Method, which divides the note sheet into three sections:

  • Cues: It includes key questions and main points.
  • Notes: Which you write during the class using the outline method. 
  • Summary: Which you can write after class while reviewing.

The Mind Map

The mind map is a visual diagram of abstract concepts.

It works best in subjects like chemistry, history and philosophy, subjects having a neural network like interlocked and complex topics. 

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Note prioritization
Note prioritization

Most common reasons to search through old notes:

  • Figuring out who is supposed to do what
  • Revisiting/clarifying decisions made
  • Looking for greater context on requir...
Must-Capture notes in meetings
  • Action Items: to-dos, tasks, action requests etc. These will serve as the foundation to keep everyone aligned and moving forward.
  • Decisions: Clearly defining the outcome and decision agreed to by the group is essential.
  • Requirements/Specifications: Sometimes they pop up unexpectedly in the midst of conversation, but they’re important to document.
Honing your note taking strategies during meetings
  • Create an agenda, to be able to better control the pace of the meeting and plan for the likely key notetaking moments.
  • Take notes in advance: Write your key discussion points to present in advance.
  • Prepare your note-taking tools.
  • Prepare the setting before the meeting, especially before video calls: being able to hear everyone = better notes.
  • Block 10 minutes after the meeting, to clean up your notes, add details where there may be gaps, and delete notes that turn out to have no value.
Meta-Learning

It's knowing how to learn. Learning itself is a skill, and knowing how to do it well is an incredibly valuable advantage.

Merely acquiring information is not learning....

Learning has 2 phases

Learning is a two-step process:

  • Read/listen: feeding ourselves new information.
  • Process and recall what you’ve just ‘learned’: connecting new materials to what we already knew.
Remembering the right things

You should not waste your time by committing unimportant details to memory. 

Your focus should be on understanding the bigger picture, on how things relate to each other.

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