How to Take Excellent Notes

How to Take Excellent Notes
Blog Writers - Thu Apr 10, 2014 @ 01:00PM
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How to Take Excellent Notes

At one point in your life or another, you will need to take notes.  Here are some very key tips for note-taking:

You will need a notebook.  It can be large or small, whatever you like, but be sure it is easy to carry around. 

You will need a great pen (or two!).  Sounds obvious, I know, but choose a pen that you like to write with.  It's always smart to keep two pens with you, in the case that one runs out of ink.  Some people prefer fountain pens, other prefer regular pens.  Some like red ink, others blue ink, and still others enjoy using black ink.  Use the color of ink you love and what gets you energized to write!

(By the way, a cappuccino is an optional addition to your note taking experience, but highly recommended, as pictured above!) :)

Get Ready!  Before, not during, the sermon or speech or session, get your pen out and your notebook open.  I find it very helpful to date the page, write the title of the session, and the speaker's name.  An entry in my journal looks something like this:

Date: April 10, 2014

Speaker: John Doe

Session: "Redeeming the Time" 

Look for very important cues.  Whenever a speaker says "The conclusion is..." or "The most important point is..." or "You need to write this down...", listen and write it down. 

Don't worry about perfection.  Reworded, I'm initially saying this: don't worry about full sentences.  Though I often use full sentences in my notes, sometimes it just isn't possible.  That said, make your sentences as readable as possible.  (For example, if Mr. Doe says "You should remember that the most important thing is to make a schedule," just jot down: Make a schedule.  It's readable, easy to write down, and paraphrases exactly the point Mr. Doe was making.) 

Leave spaces.  You can always leave spaces in your notes and fill them in later with more detail.  This is especially a strong tip if you are rushing to "keep up" with the speaker.   

Never write down everything.  Most people speak at about 125 words per minute, more or less.  So it's impossible to write down every single word, and besides, it isn't necessary!  Only write down what you can retain, and the key ideas. 

Don't worry about introductory comments.  If the speaker elaborates on a funny story, it isn't necessary to write that down, unless of course it was a REALLY good story :).  In addition, the speaker's introduction may not contain anything to do with the topic.  For example, Mr. Doe may say "It sure is cold here where you all are from, but thanks for coming out to listen to me blab on about this topic.  I was talking with my wife and she warned me to bring three jackets."  There is absolutely no need to write down that kind of introductory stuff, as it's just an icebreaker, nothing to do with the real topic.] 

Prepare for rare experiences.  I know this sounds funny, but hang in with me here.  Though it doesn't happen often, sometimes I will attend a session where I just want to write down EVERYTHING the speaker says.  Sadly, it simply isn't possible.  So, instead, I opt for listening to an MP3 [which is often available] of the recorded session later.   

Use a strategy that works for you.  Everyone has their own note taking strategy, so use the one that works best for you.

Recognize key or important words.  Words such as "The four points we learn from this study is..." [Translation: Write the four points down!  This is important!]

When you get home, review and perhaps even edit your notes.  This is an oft-forgotten yet so important key! You should review your notes quickly, and add things here and there if needed.  I like to read over my notes, because that way I can catch any mistakes.  Sometimes, inevitably, you will run into a sentence that just makes no sense.  [You may even say, "What was I thinking?!  This makes absolutely NO sense whatsoever!]  Simply scribble out the sentence, neatly of course, or rewrite it if you wish. 

I hope this gave you a few great tips for note-taking!  (And please, DON'T forget the cappuccino.  You'll need it, trust me!)  

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