By now, hopefully you have learned to take good notes inside the classroom. However, taking notes outside of class can be just as important. I have found that the tips and tools I learned about from individuals outside the classroom have been the most influential to my personal and professional success.
Why should I take notes?
You are not going to remember everything you hear. Believe me. The Dartmouth College Academic Skills Center states that, “Humans are poor listeners. Research shows that individuals can only recall 50% of what they hear and that 20-30% is incorrect!”
There have been many times that I wished I had written things down. If you don’t jot down things when you hear them, you have missed your chance of having the most accurate record.
When should I take notes?
Here are some examples of when you should take notes:
- When researching what college or graduate school to attend
- When reading advice articles or attending personal development and career workshops
- When learning new things at your job or internship
- During your student organization meetings
- When asking for help, particularly regarding anything technical or computer-related
I have been able to quickly learn new technologies largely because I have taken notes and saved important information. When I want to learn new software products or social media tools, I try to seek out free classes or online resources for assistance.
To help me keep track, I have found better note-taking tools than pencil and paper or opening a Word document on my PC.
My favorite note-taking tool is Evernote. This is a free application that allows you to take notes through a web browser on any computer, through an app on your Mac or PC, or with a smart phone.
Evernote will index all your notes so they are fully searchable. This tool is particularly useful if you don’t have your laptop with you and you want to remember something.
Another way I have learned to remember important things that I find online is to save the web pages. Conventional bookmarking on your computer browser can get messy and is only helpful if you have your computer with you. One useful tool for organizing your bookmarks is the free web app, Delicious.
Once you save your bookmarks in Delicious, they are accessible from any computer and many mobile devices. You can easily tag your Delicious bookmarks so they are arranged by topic. In addition, you can share bookmarks or search other people’s bookmarks.
Tip: Using the Delicious add-on in Firefox makes it really easy to save and retrieve your cataloged bookmarks
I tend to use the Delicious app for web pages I want to refer to regularly. I use another tool for when I want to save articles to read just once.
For all of you folks (like me) who love to read various tweets, articles and blogs online, but don’t always have time at the moment to read the full article, Read It Later will be your new best friend.
This web app (also available on smartphones) saves web articles so you can easily access them later. I typically will use Read It Later for saving articles I find on Twitter or through RSS feeds. Once I have time, I read through the saved articles and delete them as I go. The Read It Later browser add-on is also a must-have.
Tip: It would be handy to have Evernote open while you are reading your saved articles, so you can write down any important things you may have learned.
Note-taking leads to success
I learned about all of the above apps from classmates or friends. If I hadn’t written down the names of the tools, I would not have remembered to follow-up and make an account.
You don’t have to be a genius or attend the highest-ranked school to be knowledgeable and successful. You just have to make the best of what you have — be a good listener and take good notes, even when you are outside the classroom.
Lori Bielek is the Marketing and Technology Coordinator at University of Delaware’s (UD) Career Services Center where she advises students in the arts and sciences through all steps of their career development. You can connect with Lori through LinkedIn, Twitter, or the UD Career Services Twitter account (@UDcareers).