Tag: takingnotes

A First Attempt at Visual Note Taking

Recently, I have started seeing examples of visual note taking all over. As someone who likes to take notes and loves to learn new things, I was immediately interested. With conference weekend last weekend, I finally had a great chance to practice.

Conference weekend was ideal, because there was lots to take notes on (ten hours of broadcasts), and I won’t really need my notes to remember the material. All of the talks will be available soon in multiple formats. Perfect!

I still took my regular notes alongside my visual notes. This was nice as I was able to look back at them for points I missed. This was not nice, because by the end of the weekend, my hand really, really hurt.

I learned a lot in this first attempt. First, visual notes are wonderful for review. They are fun to look back at, and really condense the talk into a few key points. In that respect, they are a bit like a comic journal versus a regular journal. I may never reread my conference notes once I have the written copy of the talks in hand. I will most likely look at my visual notes, if only to remember quickly who said what.

Second, it’s easy to take note of something just because it makes a great visual image and miss the main point of the talk. Also, some things that you want to emphasize aren’t easy to make visually appealing. I will have to study this some more and see what other people do.

Third, I watched the women’s session at the church where the lights were dim, so I took regular notes and completed the visual notes later instead of at the same time. I think those notes are probably the best representation of the talks. Creating visual notes that are really useful might best be done after hearing the entire talk, so that it is a good representation of the main points of the talk and what I really want to remember.

I will definitely repeat this experiment. I think that visual notes are a great way to focus on the main points of a talk or lecture and have the information available for easy reference later. It’s also a good method to review what I’ve learned and think about it carefully.

Have you ever taken visual notes? Do you have any advice? Do you have any recommendations of great examples of visual notes for me to study? Please let me know!

Try, Try Again

When trying to learn something on your own, it is important to spend some time on figuring out how you learn best. I think that most people have a combination of strategies that they use when learning something new. It can be helpful to analyze why and how those strategies work for you so that you can use them more effectively.

Since I was young, I felt like I learned best from reading. This was especially true if there were pictures to look at. One memorable example was learning to knit from books. Books are still one of the first resources I turn to when learning something new.

One of the least effective ways for me to learn is from lectures. To compensate, I learned to take very thorough notes in school. It’s a habit that has continued, and I find that I remember and learn more by taking notes, even if I never go back to reread them.

Superficially, this would tell me to always learn new things from books and avoid classrooms altogether. However, this is not really the most effective way for me to learn. To figure out how I best learn, I had to analyze why books work so much better for me than lectures.

One of my cartoons. Find more of my humor on my Cartoons Page.

When I read, I pause often to think about what I read. I visualize the process. I think about how it connects to what I already know. I turn back several pages to check on something I remember reading to see if it relates to what I just read.

In a lecture, my mind is making all the same leaps. Unfortunately, the information keeps coming, even when my brain is on pause. When I take notes, it forces me to focus on writing down the information and staying on task. My mind still sometimes wanders, but it isn’t for as long, and I can usually pick up what I missed to fill in the holes in my notes. I have to think about the information later, often while checking back over my notes to make connections.

My way of taking notes.

When I am learning to do something new, my first attempt usually doesn’t go well. Failure, while not fun, is part of the process. I then go back to check what I learned to see where I went wrong. Books, especially books with diagrams, usually have lots of information that I can go through to compare to my attempt. I make a hypothesis on what I need to fix, and try again.

Lectures, because of time constraints, have less information to go through. An hour of lecture could fill less than a chapter of a good book. Books are more helpful when things go wrong.

A couple of my daily practice sketches from January 2019.

However, actually seeing something done really helps with visualizing what I need to do. Instead of trying to piece it all together through descriptions and diagrams, I can see exactly how it works. The problem is that demonstrations usually make things look easier than they are. It’s hard to reproduce that on my own.

Seeing something done, thinking it through and visualizing it, attempting it on my own, then getting feedback on what I did wrong, and trying again? That is really how I learn best. Books and lectures are just the vehicles for the information that I need.

Looking at that process, how I really learn, I can see many other ways I can best accomplish it. Finding a mentor might be the most effective way for me to learn. YouTube videos and google searches could be valuable if done right.

Knowing how I really learn best can help me be creative in how I learn. I can be more effective with the time I have. This is one of the great advantages of self study.

Practicing is a necessary step in the learning process. Samuel Johnson once said that, “By writing, you learn to write.” Putting what I’ve learned into practice is the ultimate test to see how well I’m really learning. If I can’t use the information I have, the information isn’t very helpful after all.

But studying is an important partner to that practice. Without new information, you are attempting to slowly reinvent what others have already learned and shared. Learning from the people who have gone before you can save you so much time.

I love to learn new things. There is such a feeling of accomplishment when I do something I couldn’t do before. That moment when I understand something that didn’t make sense to me, that feeling of the last puzzle piece clicking into place, is so rewarding. Learning how I learn best makes the entire process easier and less frustrating so that I can get to the good part of learning that much faster.

How do you learn best? Has that changed over time? Does it change depending on what you’re learning? Do you like to learn new things?

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