Note taking is the most important skill for any healthcare professional and specially for medical students, because if this skill cultivated in early part of a medical student career, it could help achieve exponential results right from beginning.

But at whatever stage in your healthcare career you are  its not too late to learn this essential skill.

Good Note takings fundamental principle is “to ensure whatever piece of information you just have learned has been understood by you and have an organized written record of it for later revision.” 


Okay, let’s take this definition of Good Notes Taking apart and see how to make one.


(I) First part, “to ensure whatever piece of information you just have learned has been understood by you”.

In this first part there are three keywords to understand.

a. Ensure, to ensure means here is you must have to make sure that you are committed at the first place before doing any work that you will complete the note taking process and not leave it in between.

This is most important hurdle for so many students and professionals that they never complete the process of completing the note taking process and than says note taking doesn’t helped them.

You have to bear the pain of completing the process to taste its fruits of it at the end.

b. Learned, here learned means simply to read/listen/watch the piece of information in unbias way with open mind along with that make sure to note the bibliographic information/podcast title/video url for later referencing in the notes for building connections between different notes(explained more later).

c. Understood, here it means to know the piece of information you just have learned that much so as to you can summarize it in three lines and explain it to 5 year old child easily.

i.e. to understood means to know the material for which you can generate simplest explanations.

Idea here to make the material more visceral and more palatable for your subconscious mind to take in and build connections to your already known database of information in your mind easily.

(II) Second part, “and have an organized written record of it for later revision

In this second part of the definition also we have three keywords to understand,

a. Organized, it means here to have a system of arranging your notes. Each individual have different systems of it. The most successful people of our time adopt one these systems for organizing there notes, you can model them or build your own, it totally depends on you and your study flow.

i. Zettelkasten (slip-box) – A zettelkasten consists of many individual notes with ideas and other short pieces of information that are taken down as they occur or are acquired. The notes are numbered hierarchically, so that new notes may be inserted at the appropriate place, and contain metadata to allow the note-taker to associate notes with each other. For example, notes may contain tags that describe key aspects of the note, and they may reference other notes. The numbering, metadata, format and structure of the notes is subject to variation depending on the specific method employed.

ii. Mind Map – mind mapping is a note taking tool as well as an organizing tool as well. You can organize you notes by building index mind map of the system, chapter, topic or book you have read/listen/watch.

iii. One Page – one page note organization is a method for quick retrieval of  information, what ever you learn summarize it in just one page along with references to the sources and your past info sources similar to the one your are currently learning. This method helps you arrange your notes in your personal wikipedia like fashion and make searching for the particular information in your notes simple and fast.

More and more organization methods are getting developed each day. The main aim of them is quicker and relevant retrieval of information at correct time of need.

b. Record – to record something, whether it is a text, image or video is most important in your note taking process. I use physical notebooks for my text and diagram notes, google keep for picture notes and external hard drive for video notes. Pick your method of keeping records.

c. Revision – last and most essential part of good note taking is revision, whatever you have done till now is for this step. Good revision makes your note taking process a success. To have great revision experience make sure you can access your notes record anytime anywhere no matter what your situation is. That’s why make sure you have record keeping method is internet independent system.

Summary –

In summary, to create good notes, follow these six principles and create way better notes than anyone –

1. Get yourself committed to complete the notes and not to leave them in between.

2. Read/Listen/Watch the information in un-bias and with open mind. Also take bibliographic information at this stage for later referencing purposes.

3. Understand the material enough to generate simplest explanation of whole topic in just three lines.

4. Adopt a notes organization method for a quick and relevant retrieval of information in time of need.

5. Maintain internet independent record keeping system of each and every type of information you use in your studies.

6. Revise your notes as frequently as possible.

Similar Posts