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Note Taking Tips?

I'm in my first year of university and trying desperately to come up with the best way to take notes on my mac...

I've been looking into notae and yojimbo (I like the tagging features alot, but dislike that I can't put in pictures and such) but have heard good things about journler and devonthink.

The problem with Notae (which I used today) is everything is in SQL databases which is going to make it difficult. Plus most of these apps REQUIRE you to make a new database file rather than a bunch of text files which it will database and collect, etc. I've also heard wiki's are a great way to take notes but have no clue how to do so on my mac.

So please, if you have any suggestions I'd love to hear them. I'm sure there are many like me who also would love to know any suggestions for great apps for us Univeristy kids.

hagure's picture

1 more for OmniOutliner

Put one more down for OO. While I also believe in all the reasons why one should take notes on paper, I just write too slowly. And the whole thing about wifi being a distraction may be true, but with paper I doodle my way out of paying attention so its a moot point.

Anyway, I use OO in a quasi-Cornell style: first column is for page numbers, dates/years or other referential meta. 2nd column is for the main subject/keyword, 3rd for the rest of the info. I also use the notes feature for any other random stuff.

But this is can be done with most of the other apps mentioned. What really sold me was the ease of formatting my notes.

See, when I take notes on paper (nowadays only in classes when drawings, diagrams and such are prevalent), I use a multi-pen (the metal version of this gets me compliments from everyone but I digress), with each color meaning something different:

Red=important or a person, Blue= a question I have or a date, Green=an example or a connection with another subject/class, Black=quote.

With OO, I have created a template which has a few formating styles pre-defined. This way, I can select a row, push control+1, and have the background of the row turn red. Control + 2 turns it blue, and so on. Along with changing the Capslock key into "ctrl", this makes it easy and fast to simulate my paper note taking method on the computer, with the added benefit of hierarchy and folding.

I set up a QS hotkey for this template, making it a matter of opening up my laptop and pushing ctrl+opt+n for a second to have me ready to go. I create a new document for each class/lecture, and use a naming system to keep it all organized:

[course name] [course #] [scholastic week].[day #][notes type] [Today's Topic]

IE: Japn 190 2.1L Akihabara

The notes type refers to what kind of notes it is. I also use this same system for notes while I'm reading, so while lectures get an "L", readings gets an "R". Sections/labs get an "S".

After I'm finished with finals, I'll put all of that quarter's class folders into a devonthink database devoted to school. (actually, I'm probably going to stop doing this, as d.think STILL doesn't recognize OO documents... any suggestions?)

Its not a perfect system, but it works for me. And to echo what others have said before, "having TRUSTED system that work create mind like water." It took me quite a lot of tool-testing and tinkering to reach this state, but I'm happy and productive now.

All in all, to sum up this loooong comment, whatever system you choose to stick with, make sure it feels right. For me, it feels GOOD to take notes, and this helps with keeping me focused and attentive. As I've settled down with this system, it has evolved along with me and my classes, and it has become much easier to organize and review my ideas. And seeing my multi-colored documents get weird glances and double-takes is just another bonus. =D

I only wish OO would allow for more control over column formatting though...




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