Oh joy, oh joy, it’s Midterm Season!! For me, this means frantically attending office hours and scouring over lecture notes like a mad woman until I eventually pass out in my bed wearing cat pajamas, all tangled up in my headphones and crinkling my once crisp and organized piles of paper.
During this insane time of sleepless nights and overwhelming course loads, it’s super easy to quickly get unorganized. I’ve had my fair share of face-palming moments where I’ve walked into the wrong classroom at the wrong time or have gone into complete spaz mode whilst looking for my “lost” phone only to realize it was in my back pocket the entire time. College is crazy! Midterm Season is even crazier! Sticking to an organized game plan is easier said than done, but today I wanted to talk about some of the ways I attempt (and, not gonna lie, often fail) to keep my scholastic life orderly and in check.
Being Organized – The Bob Rule
This organization pretty much all starts and ends with how I take notes. Whether I’m in class, at the library, at a coffee shop, or in bed pretending to study, I try to take as many notes as possible. A lot of you know that I worked in a startup company for the first half of my college experience, doing various marketing jobs and leading a handful of different projects at a time.
The Bob Rule: Always take notes. Always.
One of the biggest pieces of advice I was ever given came from the CEO of the startup company, who actually received said advice from a 94-year-old man named Bob — which is why we dubbed this wisdom “The Bob Rule”. The Bob Rule is simple: no matter what you’re doing, how important it is, or why you’re doing it, ALWAYS TAKE NOTES. Always. Each person in the company carried around a notebook and constantly filled said notebook with questions, ideas, meeting notes, to-do lists, and more.
Digital Notes & Notability
The use of The Bob Rule was so extremely helpful in my work life, that it just naturally overflowed into my school life. One way that I adapted the rule, however, was that I opted to add a digital component to my note-taking. I’ve mentioned before that I use my iPad and Pencil 53 for digital art. I also use it for digital note-taking as well. Freshman year, I discovered a beautiful little app called “Notability”, which allows you to type, write, and highlight notes very very easily. It also has a nice feature that lets you record audio while taking notes, which I frequently use as a safety net for when I’m in a class with a particularly fast-talking lecturer. Here are some examples of the digital notes I’ve taken over the years.
One of the first things I get asked when I show people my notes is, “Woah, how do you make them look so pretty? Do you do all of that while the professor is talking?”
The answer to that is, “LOL NO!!!”
My Note-Taking Process
My typical method for taking these digital notes is to type or write the main “big picture” points during class, accompanied by some rough highlighting and scribbles to let me know I need to explore a specific topic further at a later time. Then, right after class, I’ll take 5-10 minutes to quickly go over these concepts and will jot down anything else that I feel like I need to review more when I study. The “prettiness” of the notes usually comes from this, as I start to rearrange poorly written sentences and smooth out more of the scatterbrained notes/images that were quickly created during lecture. Once I’ve got a better sense of what’s going on, I’ll tuck the notes away and won’t revisit them until I either a) have a question I’m trying to answer for homework or a quiz or b) am prepping/studying for an exam (it’s usually for b).
I will say, that sometimes it’s hard to keep up with note-taking in class. I’ll have to go back to the ‘ol pen and paper style in order to get all the info I need from class. There are days, with my digital notes, that I just forget to document important points from the lecture or am not feeling particularly enthused about the world and things just slip through the cracks. That’s okay! That’s what office hours, review sessions, and study groups are for. I try to remind myself that these notes are ultimately for my use and I am in charge of what they turn out to be.
These notes are for my use and I am in charge of what they turn out to be.
Another helpful part of digital note-taking is that when it comes time for important exams and midterms, I can easily ctrl+f my entire note document to find more info on a topic I’m studying which is SO nice. (This does, however, only work when I’ve typed the notes. The drawing/hand-written stuff won’t show up).
Aight. That’s my note-taking spiel. Everyone takes notes differently. I like to do mine digitally. Sometimes old-school notebook style. It really just depends on how I’m feeling and what is helping me best understand the course content. But I always always always take notes. Always. It’s The Bob Rule, and what Bob says, goes.
P.S. Thank you to all the lovely people sending in such sweet notes and pictures of them enjoying Bossy Pants!! I’ve been a bit M.I.A. this week because of (you guessed it!) midterms, but I love seeing all the feedback and getting excited texts about you guys receiving your copy of the book in the mail. THANK YOU ❤ If you’d like a copy, you can still head over to Amazon and snag one there.