Develop an Effective Note-Taking System

Published: September 17, 2019

Have you ever been to a speaking engagement where you become completely engrossed in what the speaker is saying and almost feel as if the speaker is speaking directly to you? In these instances do you find yourself taking a copious amount of notes thinking to yourself, “Self, we MUST review these later and apply them to our life!”, and then you never actually read over the notes ever again? I think it is safe to say we have all been here before, and some of us even have stacks of notebooks to prove it.

We have uncovered some great tips on how to become a better note-taker, develop a “note-taking system” and effectively apply these notes in your life and business. 

A simple, yet effective way to make better use of your notes (and notebook) is to use the margins of your notebook. When taking notes, it can be hard to make certain words or ideas stand out. Of course, you can use a highlighter or a different color pen, however if you are not someone who carries around either of these on a regular basis then using the margins is a great option. In the margins of your notebook, write down key words or short phrases that will trigger you to remember key, stand-out thoughts. Maybe you go one step further and underline these words or write them in all caps. By placing these keywords on the outside edges of the pages they will catch your eye!

Another great way to make better use of your notes is to add symbols or letters. Symbols might include a ‘star’ to indicate an important idea or a ‘?’ to remind you to research an idea or gather further information. To highlight an idea that you would like to include in one of your future classes, lessons, or speaking events you may use the letter ‘T’ for “Teaching/Training”. Perhaps there is an idea that you want to implement into your life or business, so you use the letter ‘A’ for ‘Action’. If you want to master a technique or craft maybe you use the letter ‘M’. You may even go one step further by placing a circle/symbol around each letter AND placing it in the margin of your notebook to make it stand out even more. 

This next note-taking trick is a bit more time consuming but can be very effective in the long run. After each event or class you attend, take the time to type out your notes. Keep these within a word document on your desktop or within a Google Doc in your Google Drive. Maybe you have a separate document per event, or perhaps you have one document for each quarter of the year and add your notes accordingly. By creating digital copies of your notes, it will be easier for you to sift through your ideas as you can use the ‘Find’ function on your keyboard to search for keywords (leadership, finance, goals, etc.). 

Develop a note-taking system that works for your learning and teaching style. You can choose whatever works best for you; there is no right or wrong way to do this!

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