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If You Want To Learn Everything More Effectively, You Should Know This Note-Taking Skill

If You Want To Learn Everything More Effectively, You Should Know This Note-Taking Skill
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Learning Is More Than Information Storage

Note-taking is an art form unique to the writer.  It is not necessarily always done to enhance your ability to learn new ideas.  But, it is one of the main reasons people take notes today — to learn a new thought or concept – to remember.  However, learning involves more than just committing information for storage in the brain.  Information is meant to be expanded upon and a stellar note-taking method can help add to the existing body of knowledge available in the world today.

We each have a contribution to make to the world.  If you are an avid reader, note-taking can help expand and broaden the ideas covered.  You can add to the body of current intellectual knowledge by taking notes and expanding on what exists.  Or, if you are a student assigned to remember facts and details, note-taking is a mandatory component of the learning experience.

What Are The Problems Of Conventional Note-Taking Approach?

One of the challenges with traditional forms of note taking is when done on a computer.  Although it may seem easier to quickly capture spoken words this way, little, if any, intellectual organization is necessary to record another speaker.  However, when we write out notes, we are forced to organize the thoughts in our head and then place them on paper.  The format one uses to record information varies, but there are specific types of ways to take notes in ways that help us learn more effectively.

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The goal of effective learning is to know the key points of a subject and then broaden the existing base of knowledge through analysis and reflection.  Excellent note-taking skills can help this process unfold.

The Cornell Note-Taking Method

Wichita State University recommends the Cornell Note-Taking Method.  Divided into three parts, each part is utilized during or after a learning session. It is a great way to commit knowledge to memory.  But, it is also an effective method of expanding on the existing body of knowledge.

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    via Lifehacker

    Take a piece of paper and divide it into three parts.  The left column is where the questions to be answered are recorded.  In other words, the lecture or reading for that day is answering a specific question.  That question, and others, can be recorded in this left column to help organize note taking.

    Next, the right side of the left column is where key points and bulleted thoughts are recorded.  What answers are available for the questions offered on the left?  This is where those answers are recorded – on the right-hand side.

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    Finally, the bottom of the page, shaped like a long rectangle, is where the note-taker summarizes what they learned from that day’s reading or lecture.

    The real meat of the learning comes from the bottom of the page.  What are that day’s take-aways?  What new idea or thought can be added to the existing body of knowledge as a result of this particular lecture or reading?  This is how effective learning takes place and knowledge is expanded.

    How This Note-Taking Method Contributes To Effective Learning

    The act of having to process the information written in order to take the note is important.  It is here that more questions can occur and a person’s thought processes are revealed.  This is where real learning takes place as a person’s unique and specific though processes are jarred in order to logically record the note.  In this way, a person’s analytical skills and creativity specific to their style of thinking shines.

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    Note-taking could be considered a form of art.  The ability to focus on someone speaking while logically recording notes is an organizational skill necessary to the learning process.  The Cornell Method of Note-Taking is not just an effective method to record information; it also helps stimulate creativity and produce deeper insights for today’s top-notch scholars.

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    Michelle Owens

    Freelance Writer/Editor

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    Last Updated on July 21, 2021

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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    No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

    Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

    Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

    A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

    Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

    In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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    From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

    A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

    For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

    This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

    The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

    That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

    Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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    The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

    Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

    But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

    The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

    The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

    A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

    For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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    But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

    If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

    For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

    These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

    For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

    How to Make a Reminder Works for You

    Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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    Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

    Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

    My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

    Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

    I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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    Reference

    [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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