Get organized, work efficiently, & sync between all your devices
One of the most important ways to take awesome notes is to create one central place to keep everything. Imagine you were studying at home last night on your desktop computer and today at work a meeting gets canceled and you decide to fit in 10 minutes of study time. You quickly pull up your notes on your smartphone and spend ten minutes mastering memorization. You are efficient. You are awesome.
This can and should be your reality when you are working and going to school.
You have to be able to access your study material at any time, anywhere. There are tons of options to organize your notes, and Microsoft OneNote is my go-to solution. It has powerful built-in tools and wide availability across devices. I’m going to show you some of the ways you can use OneNote for your college study notes.
Set Up OneNote for Study notes
OneNote allows you to organize content in notebooks, sections, and pages. This organization is your friend and allows you to easily locate what you need!
When you have a notebook open you can see the sections (far left below) and pages (to the right) of the notebook at one time. To get set up for your semester or term, here is my recommendation:
- Create a section for each course, name it by course name or course code. These will be color-coded to help you see at-a-glance which course you are working on right now.
- Look over your syllabus to see how the course is organized. If you will be working through a textbook, create a page for each chapter. If the course is organized by topic, create a page for each topic. Everything you study for each chapter/topic goes on its page. This organization helps you collect your thoughts and keep them together.
With this basic set-up, you are ready to start studying! Want to take your prep work one step further, my productivity partner? Look through your chapters and create a basic outline with the major headings from the chapter. This lets you know what you’ll be covering in each chapter and gives you a skeleton to add notes to.
Take Awesome Notes with OneNote Tags
OneNote’s built-in tags are what make this tool stand apart from others, including 27 built-in tags (at the time of writing). At the top of the OneNote ribbon you should see an area of tags:
There are a LOT of options, but below are the ones I utilize most often when studying.
Read to make these super powerful? OneNote can search for tags of specific types, building collections of tags within a notebook.
Imagine you have been using flags as you go and at midterm, you want to start studying for your exam. You do a quick tag search for all of the definition tags. This creates a one-page list and automatically copies all of your definitions to this one spot. You also search for the important tag and create a list of the key concepts you’ve noted.
Imagine how much time this will save you!
Syncing across devices
As I mentioned at the top of the page, you need to maximize study time by fitting in short unused blocks of time during your day. Having OneNote on your laptop, phone and tablet mean you can pull up your study notes anywhere g. OneNote is currently available for:
Once you have great organized notes, it is time for Part 3: Turn Your Notes into a Powerful Study Tool. This is where you will really learn how to study for exams in less time.
Read the entire note-taking series to maximize your study time:
Try It Yourself: 15-minute Challenge
- Sign up for a free account or log in with your Microsoft account and check out OneNote.
- Set up a section for your current course(s).
- Create pages for each lesson or topic.
- Start taking some fantastic notes.