Take just one minute to think about how many self-help books you've read... articles you've skimmed... or online courses you've taken.
Now answer me honestly:
Have they gotten you anywhere?
Or are you stuck in a loop of instant gratification?
Let's learn how we can make our notetaking habits different. If we want to make our notetaking skills benefit us FOREVER, we need to create habits and rituals that STICK. So in this article we are going to be exploring my best time and energy management tips applied to notetaking.
By the end of this article you will know how to create a notetaking habit that requires only 15-30 minutes of daily upkeep.
Delving into the online writing sphere while in college isn't easy.
Throughout my years at Cornell University I have had to balance my online writing with clubs, school classes, relationships, sports, and more. But I'm so grateful I started when I did. Along the way I have learned a few key principles for time and energy management starting as an online writer in college.
Keep in mind with what I'm about to tell you that everyone differs; what works for me might not work for you.
⌚How To Manage Your Time And Energy As A New Era Student
There are four time management principles that have been particularly influential in my college journey:
- Time Blocking: every night before I go to bed I time block out the next day. I wake up with crystal clarity on what I want to do with my time. In addition, I do daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly reviews so that I can practice what I call lifestyle design, the art of creating and adapting the best possible life for you. Learn how to do regular reflection and planning yourself with my free article.
- Accountability: When I was first ingraining my notetaking habit, I would tell my brother if I didn't go to lecture and study when I said I would, I would pay him $500. I never had to pay him $500. The power of accountability.
- Systemizing: different parts of the notetaking and studying process require different parts of your brain. As is explained in [[My Step By Step Process For Taking Conceptual Lecture Notes In Obsidian]], the notetaking process can be broken down into before class, during class, after class, and after the semester. For each of these steps I have scheduled times during the weeks and months that I focus specifically on them. I spend 15-30 minutes every morning (or night if it's better for you) processing my literature notes into concept notes. This leads into the next tip.
- Batching: I batch a single notetaking step into a single block of writing so that I don't tire my brain out. I batch most of my pre-reading before class on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
There are four energy management principles that have been particularly influential in college journey.
From my experience the best college students are incredibly healthy as well.
- Regular Exercise: I weightlift three times per week, and do some form of cardio 6 times per week. Find something you can do consistently and enjoy.
- Regular Sleep Schedule: I sleep at the same time every night, EVEN on the weekends. Watch this video to learn how to create an optimal sleep environment.No way around it, partying and sleeping in on the weekends WILL hurt your notetaking and studying.
- Healthy Diet: I eat as many single ingredient, unprocessed foods as I can. I try and get 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight, and prioritize eating healthy fats and proteins over carbohydrates. I fast 1 day per week and intermittent fast every single day only eating between 12:00 p.m. and 8 p.m. Not saying you have to do the same, just figure your diet out...
- Newton's First Law: If I don't feel like notetaking, I tell myself I will notetake for just 5 minutes. If I still don't feel like it, I stop. But often that's enough to get me going.
⚛️Atomic Habits: How To Create Habits That STICK From This Course
If you haven't read it, Atomic Habits is THE best book for learning how to create better habits in your life.
Let's apply the major framework for creating habits from the book to our notetaking practice.
The cue-craving-response-reward loop is a central concept in the book "Atomic Habits" by James Clear. It explains the process by which habits are formed and reinforced. Here's a summary of each component:
- Cue: A cue is a trigger or signal that initiates a habit. It could be something you see, hear, feel, or experience. Cues can be external (environmental triggers) or internal (emotions, thoughts, etc.).
- Craving: The cue leads to a craving, which is a desire or motivation to fulfill the habit. Cravings are often linked to the anticipation of the reward associated with the habit. They are a powerful psychological force that drives behavior.
- Response: The response is the actual behavior or action that you take in response to the craving. It's the habit you're trying to establish. This could be something positive or negative, depending on the habit you're forming.
- Reward: The response results in a reward or outcome that satisfies the craving. Rewards are the positive outcomes that reinforce the habit and make you more likely to repeat it in the future. They create a sense of pleasure or satisfaction.
The loop is cyclical: the cue triggers the craving, which drives the response, and the reward reinforces the loop, making it more likely that the habit will be repeated in similar situations.
This framework gives us a powerful weapon for habit change: to build good habits reinforce the cue-craving-response-reward loop. To break bad habits, weaken the cue-craving-response-reward loop.
Let's break down the habit of someone eating too much peanut butter using the cue-craving-response-reward loop (definitely not applicable to me):
- Cue: The cue in this case could be a specific time of day (like after dinner), seeing a jar of peanut butter on the kitchen counter, or feeling stressed or bored.
- Craving: The cue triggers a craving for the taste and texture of peanut butter. This craving might be due to the person associating peanut butter with comfort or pleasure.
- Response: The response is the actual behavior of eating a large spoonful of peanut butter straight from the jar. This action satisfies the craving that was triggered by the cue.
- Reward: The reward is the enjoyable taste and texture of the peanut butter, as well as the sense of comfort or satisfaction it provides. The person experiences a momentary pleasure from indulging in the peanut butter.
As this loop repeats over time, the person's brain starts to associate the cue (time of day, sight of peanut butter, emotional state) with the rewarding experience of eating peanut butter.
This reinforcement strengthens the habit loop, making the person more likely to continue overeating peanut butter in response to the same cues in the future.
To change or break this habit, one could intervene at various points in the loop.
For example, changing the cue (avoiding the kitchen after dinner), addressing the craving (finding healthier ways to cope with stress or boredom), altering the response (replacing eating peanut butter with a healthier snack), or adjusting the reward (finding other enjoyable activities to engage in) can help disrupt the loop and establish a new, healthier habit pattern.