4 Ways to Avoid Being an Unorganized Note -Taker for Non-Technical Subjects

There are many ways to take notes, and there are also many ways to organize how you take notes. Everyone has a different way to organize and take notes based on their own personality and learning styles. But we can always learn new ways to organize notes. The more you know, right? Maybe you need a complete note-taking overhaul or need tips to tweak what you are currently doing.

We are sharing with you the ways of the organized note-takers (this is the way of the warrior, just more awesome).

1. Writing down notes versus typing on the computer

Many students do not write down notes on paper at all. I love computers, and I think they are an extension of our brains with all the tools we can use and all the data we can put in the computer, so we don’t need to memorize it. However, note-taking is a different story. When you type your notes on a laptop, you are usually transcribing everything the professor says, and this is the whole problem with taking notes on a computer.

Because you type much faster than you write, you can’t resist but to write almost everything the professor says. But when you are writing down the notes on paper, you are actually forced to write only the most important things (unless you are The Flash). This is what makes writing notes a more incredible learning tool. You write down the most important things and have them organized better.

When you type, it is much more mechanical, and you do not focus as much on what the professor says, because you are focused on the transcription of his words. When you are writing your notes, you concentrate more on the professor’s words and points. Your brain can recall that information much better if you hand write your notes.

Even if you try to type only the most important things, you are probably not going to do it. Although, you can try and train yourself to do so, this is a skill you will have to master.

2. Do not transcribe, just take notes.

This has already been mentioned, but, because of its importance, it bears repeating. You have to train your brain to process the most important thing the professor says, and write ONLY those down. Do not write everything the teacher says, it is very counterproductive. In fact, it is even more counterproductive then just showing up and taking no notes at all.

One more time, writing down the most important things, helps you retain and recall the information faster and more efficiently. You will also memorize faster this way, making your life much easier (and who doesn’t want easier?). Write down new information. Don’t waste time taking notes on the facts you already know. For example, if you already know World War 2 ended in 1945, don’t write it down.

Don’t just take my word for it. Two psychologists at the University of California studied the differences of typing versus handwritten note-taking and explained all the why’s of why handwritten notes trump typed notes.

3. Create a legend.

When you are writing down information, while in a lecture, it is also important to create a legend for all of your shortcuts. For example, you are using ex. = for example, w/ = with, pts = points. You are using these shorthand tools, but you might forget what some of your shorthand means, so write a legend with your list of shortcuts. Then you can go back to it if you forget what some of your short handwritten words mean. This is a really helpful tool to keep your shortcuts actual shortcuts.

4. Draw pictures or add visuals!

If you are good at drawing or just a good doodler, adding a pictures or visual is an excellent tool to use for maximum retention while note-taking. Drawing and visualizing what your professor is explaining is one of the most underrated ways of taking notes.

The human mind is made for remembering visuals, so draw something impactful that you have no chance at forgetting. The next time you see the visual, you will know exactly how everything works. It is a powerful way to retain your professors’ lectures. Not just for the exam but for life!

5. Think outside the lines.

Some people are linear thinkers and note-taking is usually the key topic and sub-points. But non-linear thinkers need a different method. If simply writing organized notes within the lines of paper has never helped you retain information, try taking notes using mind maps. A mind map is a lot like a family tree. You usually have the central idea in the center of the page with ideas snaking out in main points and sub-points. It creates a visual map in your brain that sticks with you longer.

In order to maximize your potential in being a great note taker (especially for digital note taking), you can use the following apps:


Evernote is an amazing app that we recommend you use for note taking, especially if you are a fan of taking notes on your laptop. This is the app that will be able to organize and make you a great digital note taker.


Another great app that you should use is Grammarly. Grammarly is a world leader in proofreading that checks 250 types of spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors, enhances vocabulary usage and suggests citations.

Google Keep

Google Keep is a great app for audio transcription. You can record notes into Google Keep — not only will it transcribe it on to a virtual sticky note, it will also save your voice recording. It is one of the best note-taking apps for images. You can take a picture of your visual note-taking and upload it easily.


Simplenote is true to its name. Simple. If you are looking for something to simply jot down your notes without distraction, this is the perfect app. Simplenote provides the best rollback history in case you accidentally delete something important.

Wrapping up

Taking notes is not only a skill you need for all your college lectures. You will be note-taking most of your life. Attending conferences, sitting in a business meeting, meeting with your manager before you begin a project. Our brains can only hold so much information, and taking notes is a way to help our minds retain more information, as well as providing a good resource to go back and confirm what we may not have remembered.

What note-taking skills work best for you (either on our list or something unique)? Share in the comments below. We’re all lifelong learners.



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