Admit it: Your current note-taking strategy is good, but it isn’t yet great. Maybe your notes are cluttered, or maybe you’re using too many colors to keep things organized and making a rainbow of a mess instead. It’s all a lot, but it doesn’t need to stay this way. Use the below notes organization ideas in your next meeting to create more effective notes that’ll be easy to look over.
10 notes organization ideas
Typing your notes without any real structure is fine in the moment, but later on, you might realize your notes aren’t the neatest. Save yourself the trouble later and start getting everything in order now with the below notes organization ideas.
- Create a table of contents
- Add a bullet journal
- Group your notes into folders
- Add a title and date to your notes
- Make shortcuts for your most used folders
- Choose your favorite note-taking method
- Be consistent
- Summarize your notes and action items
- Schedule time to clean out your old notes
- Use high-quality note-taking tools
1Create a table of contents
A table of contents is a great reference point for going back to your notes. It’s easy to make too, especially if you’re taking digital notes. Just create headings and subheadings to automatically create a table of contents. When you look back on your notes later on, your table of contents can help you jump right to key points.
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2Add a bullet journal
Think of a bullet journal within your digital notes platform as a next-level diary. It consists of daily logs, monthly logs, notes, and short and long-term goals. This is a great way to track your work and plan out your future. Plus, you can customize your bullet journal however you please.
3Group your notes into folders
To better organize your notes, try grouping them into different folders or notebooks (you can totally use digital notepads too). You can also organize your digital notes by topic in most note-taking apps. You can typically divide your notes into categories and subcategories too – and use a few colors to sort your notes for easy navigation.
4Add a title and date to your notes
Just as you did when you used to take handwritten notes, you should always title and date your digital notes. You should use the same title and date format every time. For example, you can always add the title and date at the top of the page – say, maybe in the left-hand corner. You should also add the title and date to your file name.
5Make shortcuts for your most used folders
Projects, new clients, meetings, spreadsheets – you have folders for them all, and that’s a great start for organizing your notes. But at the same time, some folders will always get more attention than others. Instead of going through your entire computer to find the one folder you use the most, create a shortcut or mark it as a favorite. You’ll get right where you need to go when it’s time to take new notes or go over old ones.
6Choose your favorite note-taking method
Meeting notes can quickly become chaotic when you don’t stick to a note-taking method. With these strategies, you can create clear notes each and every time. Here are a few of the most popular note-taking strategies you can try.
- Cornell method. With the Cornell notes method, you’ll create two columns: a smaller column on the left-hand side and a larger one on the right. The left-hand side will be for subheadings and questions, and the right-hand column will be your note-taking section. Since each part is smaller than a full page, you’ll probably need to abbreviate and use symbols, leading to simpler, more organized notes.
- Outline method. The outline method is one of the most popular note-taking methods because it leaves space for details and builds connections among your notes. For this method, you’ll break each topic into a subtopic, then further break your topics down into key points. You’ll start on the left-hand side of your page with your main topics. Then, for each subheading, you’ll indent and add a bulleted list of all the details.
- Sentence method. If you’re unsure of the direction a meeting is going in, the sentence method may be your best bet. With this method, you’ll write each new idea or topic on a separate line. This can help you stay more organized than if you were to take paragraph notes. You can also add additional notes between each line, giving you space to catch up if a meeting isn’t what you expect.
- Slide method. If your meeting leader uses a presentation to guide each meeting, using the slide method to take notes can come in handy. For this method, you’ll need to download or print the presentation before the meeting. Once you have it in front of you, you can add your own notes next to each slide. This way, you can see your notes right next to the subject matter.
One of the best ways to stay organized and take good notes is to create a consistent note-taking process. The below is a great example.
- Choose a note-taking method and stick with it.
- Once you start a new document, file it under the right folder for better organization.
- If you choose to color-code, make sure you keep your headings, subheadings, and important details the same color throughout your notes.
- Place your titles, dates, and summaries in the same area for each new document.
8Summarize your notes and action items
Once you finish jotting down your notes for a meeting or project, leave space at the bottom to add a summary. This can help you better understand the material you just went over and find key information. Your summary can be a few quick sentences, or you can create a short bulleted list of all your main points.
9Schedule time to clean out your old notes
Once you’ve created a beautiful collection of neat, organized notes, you should go through your old notes. If you don’t need them anymore, it’s 100% okay to throw them away. If you think you might need them again, put them in a separate folder. This way, you’ll save yourself some space, and your favorite folder won’t be overflowing with hundreds of files. Instead, you’ll see something organized and reassuring.
10Use high-quality note-taking tools
Taking notes by computer is better than taking notes by hand – with a computer, you can document, organize, and navigate your notes in just seconds. To take the very best notes, you’ll need a platform that includes all the above tools and more.
With Fellow, taking organized notes is easy. You can build meeting agendas from templates (or create your own), then take notes right from your agendas. You’ll already have an outline – you’ll just need to fill it in with your notes. Plus, just scroll down from your most recent meeting’s notes to see the last meeting’s notes. Keep going, and you’ll see the notes from the meeting before that one. Your notes and how you store them will be super organized.
Organize your notes with Fellow
With an organized note-taking system, you can quickly look back on your notes and find exactly what you need. And with the right software, you can organize your notes as easily as 1, 2, 3.
With Fellow, you’ll find all sorts of different meeting agenda templates you can use to take notes. Or, if you want to personalize your notes, you can create your own custom templates too. And when you’re done creating your agendas, you can share them with all your team members for easy collaboration and note-taking. Now, you’ll have organized and effective notes without any hassle.