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

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

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 October 21, 2021

    How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

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    How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

    Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

    Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

    The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

    Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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    Program Your Own Algorithms

    Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

    Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

    By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

    How to Form a Ritual

    I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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    Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

    1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
    2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
    3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
    4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

    Ways to Use a Ritual

    Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

    1. Waking Up

    Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

    2. Web Usage

    How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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    3. Reading

    How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

    4. Friendliness

    Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

    5. Working

    One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

    6. Going to the gym

    If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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    7. Exercise

    Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

    8. Sleeping

    Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

    8. Weekly Reviews

    The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

    Final Thoughts

    We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

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    Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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