I’m Taking Too Many Notes – Help!
Although many students do not take enough notes, some students find themselves taking too many notes. They get caught in the trap of thinking every detail, every comment by the teacher, every graphic in the textbook is note-worthy.
This is not true!
Not everything needs to be noted. In fact, you can end up learning less by taking too many notes.
First of all, you aren’t listening or reading to grasp main themes or overall concepts. You are not listening or reading to see connections or knowledge networking. You are more like a machine that records but does not “think.” Of course, later you might do some of that thinking, connecting, and theme finding, but now you have an enormous number of notes to contend with, trying to “tease-out” meaning and relevance.
I have already jumped to my second point which is that there are too many notes to contend with using the “record everything” method. You want to have quality notes – not just quantity. As with most things you should aim for quality. (This is part of working smart not hard.)
When listening to a lecture, make sure you listen! You need to hear what is being said and understand what is being said. Then you can take excellent notes. Of course, this take some practice.
Note: In many cases, students are allowed to record lectures these days. If you do, however, follow the same tips as mentioned for the live lectures or textbook note-taking. In other words, take notes and take quality notes from the recordings.
When listening to a lecture or reading a text, try to give yourself more time before starting to take notes.
Before going into a lecture, make sure you have read the relevant material ahead of time if possible. You will then be going in “warm” instead of “cold.” In other words, you will start to connect the dots a lot quicker and a lot more solidly.
Listen carefully for a period of time, and ask yourself questions to see if they are answered as the lecture continues. Take notes when you have grasped a concept. Of course, sometimes there are specific facts or important bits that are obviously note-worthy.
Listen for key words or phrases such as “finally,” “as a consequence,” “the effect was,” “for these reasons,” etc.
Note: Listening is not the same as “hearing.” Many students feel that they have done their job because they have shown up to class and sat through it. Instead, come prepared, and listen for content and comprehension.
If you are taking notes from some form of text (textbook, online lesson, etc.), you should read more than a sentence or two before you begin taking notes.
(Look to my previous blogs / videos for using reading methods such as the SQ3R. Also, watch for my newest online course coming soon: Reading for Speed & Comprehension.)
You need to get some context before you begin taking notes so that you know what is important and what is not. Preview the information and formulate a few questions for yourself before doing the close read. Just as with “listening,” you should watch for key words that indicate a salient piece of information is coming up.
You can also use diagrams, pictures, and charts to abbreviate your notes without losing any important bits! In some cases, these can also be more effective for your retention of the material.
As with any skill, it takes a bit of time to improve your note-taking skills. Be patient, but follow a plan to ensure that you keep getting better at taking quality notes rather than just a mountain of notes!
Oh – and don’t forget to use your notes effectively for studying!
If you need more study skills direction, please get in touch.
Video Too Many Notes – Help!