We are all used to seeing artsy planners and bullet journals on the internet, whether it be on studyblrs, instagram or pinterest. And while it is entertaining to scroll through those pictures, and even creating your own, as soon as we have something important or urgent to jot down, we remember why we are not used to seeing those types of notes in real life: they are not, realistically, useful methods. We tend to need to find the quickest, most practical way to jot down important information. Said way is different for everybody, depending on your needs.
Today I am showing you some of the simplest and most efficient ways to take notes. After this, you will hopefully have a clear idea of what is the best method for you. Let’s get started!
Firstly, I am going to divide them in two categories, depending on the mediums you can use: digital and physical. I am going to start with the latter.
Digital note-taking is useful because:
- Depending on what app/program you use, there can be the option of cross-device synchronization.
- You don’t have to use paper or pens (which is good for both enviromental and spatial reasons)
- You will most likely never run out of space, so, storage. (You have your computer/phone/tablet HDD/SSD, plus OneDrive, Google Drive, Dropbox, etc.)
Digital note-taking is useful for:
- Group projects
- People with on-the-go lifestyles
Notepad is the simplest note taking program you can find. It is installed in every windows computer, TextEdit being the equivalent for Mac users.
Now, you may be wondering why someone would use something as simple as this when there is such a thing as OneNote, and said simplicity is the exact reason behind my recommendation. Notepad is useful for quick to-do lists and standalone (not needing to be linked) notes.
Reasons to use Notepad include the fact that it opens up almost instantly (I mean it. It takes less than a second to open compared to the almost 5 seconds OneNote takes), there is no distractions with text editing since it’s just the sole loaded font (Consola) and your keyboard, and most importantly, the file size is tiny, EXTREMELY tiny, each file being ~3kb.
I recommend Notepad for computer-dependent people who need simple notes like daily/weekly to-do lists, people who are not focused on the aesthetic of the notes but the gist of them, and mainly, to non-tech-saavy people, since it is so easy to use.
OneNote is part of the Office 365 suite. It comes in windows computers as well. OneNote’s main advantages are its sync option and advanced features, besides the compatibility with other Office documents (off Word, Excel, etc.).
It is considered by many as theh best note-taking app, because of the amount of customability options. You can have notebooks with sections, imitating a physical notebook. There are a lot of text editing options, the possibility to draw and highlight, and useful features like putting pictures as background, which you can use to lock your documents full of notes and add the annotations you need to study, or add lines to make a pretend-physical notebook.
Reasons to use OneNote include the aforementioned sync options thanks to 365 and OneDrive storage, the ability to share your notebooks/sections/pages with groups and individuals, and its advanced features.
I recommend OneNote to students, mainly university students but also for the ones in secondary school, who have plenty of classes and consecuently, notes to organize, and people whose jobe requires keeping track of a lot of different issues and topics. Essentially, whoever benefits from cross-device synchronization.
3. Word and Google Docs
Word is the program we have all been using since we can remember, so not much introduction is needed.
The benefits of using Word are, among others: the synching and sharing options are by far the best ones, making it excellent to share a page with one or more people and working in real time on documents from different locations. The familiar interface is always a plus, since you do not have to spend time learning something new. Finally, the text formatting options are pretty good (but as we know, it is not the best for images).
I recommend Word for group projects and people who write standalone pieces like essays, scripts, etc.
The G Suite is an alternative for the 365 Suite, and so, Google Docs is the Google alternative for Word. Docs is considered by some the lite version of Microsoft’s option, however if your storage of preference is Google Drive and/or use Gmail, this is the one to go with.
These are useful because:
- You do not need a device to carry them on.
- Synchronization is not an issue, since you can carry a notebook around and it is all in one place.
- Besides those, Some people (like me) tend to focus and remember things better if they are writing them down.
A planner is the simplest, probably-most-used way of jotting down notes and organizing appointments.
Planners are useful because they are ready to use as you buy them, no need to set up anything. They have some useful pages if you want to use it to keep track of everything in one place, such as expense pages, different calendars, a pocket to keep extra papers in, etc.
I recommend planners for primary and secondary school students and officer workers who mainly just keep track of appointments. But mainly, to people who use it for just one purpose: reminding themselves dates, for example “which date did I set the dentist appointment for?” or “when is the office meeting.
2. Bullet Journal
Before you grunt and close the article, I am talking about the original bullet journaling method and not the artsy ones. Artsy bullet journals are pretty to look at, but not time-efficient.
Reasons to use a bullet journal include making your own layout on the go, helping you keep track of everything in a single plain notebook. Once you get the gist of it, it is the fastest method by far. Finally it is really cost-effective, any notebook and pen you probably already have lying around is going to work just fine.
I recommend bullet journals to anyone. I know it seems like a biased answer, but after trying all the methods listed here, I can confidently say it works for anything. The exact reason I added them is the fact that it is basically just a blank notebook with endless customizing possibilities.
Post-its are merely a footnote in this article. They are for anybody who needs a visual cue in the room to do something they tend to forget or is urgent.
That is it! I will leave a chart and a diagram to help you choose the method best for you. If this was helpful to you make sure to share it. Have a nice day!