The Secret to Effective Note Taking

If you’re reading this, you want to one-up your note taking skills. Instead of the ‘transcribe what the person is saying into semi legible dot points’, there’s a new way.

And this brings us back to the basics.

Mind mapping.

Yep – and before you leave saying ‘fake news…’ , hear me and Hazel Wagner out.

Most likely, you did some form of it in school. Start at the centre, and branch out.

But over time, especially in VCE, ain’t nobody got time to draw octopus thingos. My notes became dry ass text, with nicely ordered dot points. I’d try to transcribe everything my teacher would say (especially in latin), and failed to actually understand the bigger picture.

It’s like I wanted to be a sadist…
Notes from uni anatomy lecture – long live dry af dot points!

And that’s the note-taking strategy i’ve relied on in life… until watching Hazel’s ted talk.

She says:

  • we don’t think in big chonks of text and sentences, we think with images and visuals and short phrases
  • the point of mind mapping is to order your thoughts immediately. You’re not transcribing, you’re putting concise info into ‘branches’ or categories.

^There’s a lot more info in the ted talk, would highly recommend you watch.

Does it actually work?


I ended up mind mapping Hazel’s mind mapping ted talk. Pwoah such meta.

All I put down were things I was interested in. Not everything she said. Not every word she uttered. Just the key ideas that stood out.

That makes reviewing notes SO much easier. It’s simple, easy to read. And the short phrases help retrieve the larger idea.

Give it a try. Definitely worth a shot.


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