Jan. 9, 2024

Note-Taking with ADHD

5 tips to become a better note taker
A notebook with a pencil laying across it sits on a table next to a small potted plant.
By Jen Theodore on Unsplash

Note-taking is an inherent expectation for students, but the question remains—how does one effectively do it? What if your brain seems to wander elsewhere? Discover tips to transform note-taking from a simple task into a potent learning tool.

Tip 1: Centralize

Try and have everything in one place. That means using one notebook or folder for anything related to that topic or course. If you can’t figure out where it goes, try to have a notebook or folder to put it in temporarily. Avoid having free-floating notes. Having a place for everything helps with review and reduces the chances of you losing your notes.

Tip 2: Organize

Now that everything is in one place, put a date on it. Date and label everything. Yes, everything. This can be done before or during class, lecture or workshop. Labelling your notes helps to chronologically follow along with the course schedule and makes it easier to return to a topic in the future.

Tip 3: Concise  

Less is more when it comes to taking notes. Start by highlighting anything the instructor says will be tested. For the rest, try to paraphrase and use abbreviations when taking notes. This doesn’t have to be literal, feel free to make your handwriting or typing as big and sprawling as you may need. Your notes should be concise, not compressed. Review the notetaking methods blog for more information on the Cornell method, mapping method, and charting method. 

Tip 4: Questioning

When taking notes, leave room for questions. This can be at the bottom of the page, to the side or even on the next page. Just make sure that you write them down as they can be very helpful for review. They could even act as a study guide. For a refresher on how to take notes during lectures, check out the blog What should I look for in a lecture? 

Tip 5: Analyze

Your notes are not a single-use tool, go back to them and review them. Research shows that returning to information in less than 24 hours can massively improve retention. It doesn’t have to be only once, go back again and again. Add to your question bank, go over definitions, etc., to get the most out of your notes.  

Interested in using technology with notetaking? Review the Notetaking technologies blog to help you take notes in a fast and effective manner.  

Good luck!

Hopefully, these tips help you on your note-taking journey. They certainly helped me in mine. And remember, these are tips, not laws. Feel free to use them in whatever way works for you.

Additional resource:

Make it Stick by Henry L. Roediger III, Mark A. McDaniel, and Peter C. Brown