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How To Take Better Notes

I take a lot of notes.

Like a good grad student, I take notes on every book, article, and archival document I read. Writing things down is one of the ways I process information. For some reason, when I write something down, not type or highlight, I can remember it. So, over the years, note taking has become a mainstay of my academic process. These notes are essential for remembering and processing information, but also for creating a repository of knowledge specific to my dissertation.

But what use is this knowledge if I can’t organize, tag, and search it? While the act of writing is an important part of my process, it doesn’t create a very efficient system for using the knowledge I acquire. Case in point, when I returned home from researching in the Florence archive, I had notebooks filled with notes and transcriptions — far too much information to remember what was in each notebook. I spent too much time re-reading and re-processing what I had already written. And what if I had lost a notebook? That precious information, which in my case can only be accessed in the archive in Italy, would be gone forever!

Needless to say, I was very excited to try Wacom’s Bamboo Folio smartpad. Sure, I could type my notes, but that is twice the work and takes double the time. Now I can work smarter, not harder. I can still handwrite my notes, but instead of getting lost in the pages of a notebook, my notes are digitized. From there, they can be transformed into rich text, which allows them to be searchable. Game changer.

With the Bamboo Folio smartpad, you write your notes as you normally would. Personally, I advocate for the Cornell method of note taking. I think it is the most efficient and analytical method since it pushes you to ask questions while you take notes and summarize key ideas rather than simply copy. You can read more about how to take Cornell-style notes here. Once you have completed your notes, your Bamboo Folio syncs with your Bluetooth-enabled tablet or smartphone. The Inkscape App and cloud then allows you organize, edit, and even share your notes and sketches. You can learn more about the Wacom Bamboo Folio smartpad here.

The first time I synced my notes, I was hooked. I cannot wait to begin tagging and organizing all of my notes. The pad can save up to 100 pages of notes before you have to sync it, so don’t worry about taking notes on the go. I really wish I had this technology when I was prepping for my comprehensive exams. The Folio is also not much larger than letter-size paper, so it is easy to take with you to class and the library, or in my case, the archive.

My note-game will never be the same again!

In addition to the Bamboo Folio, Wacom also sent me the Bamboo Duo pen and stylus to try. This pen and stylus combo is so handy! You will never have to worry about carrying a separate stylus again, and you can quickly switch from tablet doodling to list making with the same pen. I carry it with me at all times, and I bet it will be a game changer in cold months when you need to be on your phone but you don’t want to take your gloves off!

Want more academic tips? Here are 10 quick tips to improve your writing and here is the secret to reading like a graduate student.

This is a sponsored post in partnership with Wacom and Her Campus Media. All words and opinions are my own.