“Change pen colour for each new topic,” says Nina. “Your notes become colour-coded to help you visually separate and recall the details of one topic from another.

1. Preview for the big picture
Review your notes for a minute or so, skimming through the manageable chunk you’ve chosen to pick up the gist and flow of the information.

2. Use key headings
Make an outline for your notes or memory map, dividing your page into segments and leaving space to add the detail later. Keep your headings short – use key words or short phrases only.

3. Read for understanding
Re-read your notes to acquire and absorb the information. For any important keyword or key idea that sums up what the sentence or paragraph is about, place a tick in the margin next to the line you are reading or highlight the key word. Remember the 80/20 rule: 80 per cent of the ideas come from around 20 per cent of the work.

4. Reread a little faster
Reread to check you’ve absorbed everything truly important. Tick and highlight your notes if there is anything important you’ve missed before.

5. Postview
Perform a postview, scanning only those lines you have ticked or highlighted as important. By doing this you are reading only the important parts of the manageable chunk of information. This is your final ‘cram’ before starting to make your notes for immediate recall.

6. Start note-taking – first from memory
As soon as you have finished the postview, cover your reading material and add whatever you can immediately recall to your notes. Use the headings in your outline as memory triggers for the detail you’re adding.

7. Add notes, using another colour
When your notes are complete with as much as you can retrieve from memory, only then open your reading material again. Go through the text and cross-reference, that is, check whatever you ticked or highlighted is included in your notes. If not, add it in using another colour. Take a ten-minute break.

8. Retell
after your ten minute break (no longer), verbalise what you can remember out loud to yourself or to someone you know. Review again after 48 hours, then 7 days.

By Nina Sunday
Photo by Thought Catalog
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