Everyone, at some point, will need to write down a note to themselves. Whether it’s a shopping list or lecture notes, we all have to write things down to help jog our memories later on.
If your notes are usually two or three words scribbled in a dying pen, then you’ll know full well that bad notes are tricky business. Here are some tips on making notes for yourself, so that your ideas are as clear and inviting as the gorgeous Rhodia notebook that they’re written in.
We’ve all half-woken up with a great idea for a blog post or story. Or perhaps you’re on your way out and get struck by inspiration for a long-standing problem. As tempting as it might be to scribble a couple of words, help yourself out by noting down key information, using the tried and tested WWWWH method.
What – What’s the key idea or concept?
Why – Why is this relevant or important?
When – Is it time sensitive? Do you need to wait for a specific time or day to work on it?
Who – Do you need someone’s help? Or someone to give you approval?
How – What’s the best way to execute it?
Given the situation or idea, you may not need to fill out all of those, but you’ll definitely be in a better place when it comes time to go back and look at your notes later on.
When you’re in a lecture hall or conference centre it can be a bit daunting. When it comes to a showdown between you, the speaker and your Rhodia notebook, use these handy tips to help you write the best notes.
In general you’ll want to:
- Write clearly so you’ll be able to read your notes later
- Keep your notes concise. Go for short, snappy sentences rather than long flowing paragraphs
- Use colour to liven up the page by using highlighters or different coloured pens
- Draw pictures or use diagrams if they help you visualise ideas better
First things first, make sure you have all of the equipment you need for your note making. Have your pen, pencil, paper and highlighter. It’s a good idea to have a spare pen or two as well.
There’ll no doubt be lots of things covered in your typical lecture, seminar or talk and not all of it will be relevant to you. Don’t waste your efforts (and ink!) on writing things that you won’t need to recall later. For example, if someone’s reading from a text book, rather than copying it down, just write down the reference so you can read it again later.
A great way of keeping check of what’s useful to write down is by writing information that’s new to you. You can use a key by writing new information in one colour, so you’ll easily know later on what’s new.