Today we’re sharing a quick way to take good notes on the amazing information we learn, organize those notes so they can be accessed within 30 seconds, and make it simple to actually apply the information to our lives!
Here’s the opportunity:
We love consuming books, videos, articles, and courses—online and offline—but we often end up with random highlights or annotations, screen shots strewn throughout our other photos and digital files, hundreds of digital and paper bookmarks, and stacks of spiral-bound notebooks filled with scribbles that we know are valuable, but that we rarely—if ever—access and apply to our lives.
The process we’re going to walk you through today involves Evernote (an amazing app that Eric and I personally use every day), but it could also be applied using OneNote or another digital system you prefer. I’ve been doing this for the past few years, and honestly, it has revolutionized the way I learn. I take notes in a more focused way, it’s easy to locate those notes on my phone or computer (within seconds), and I find that it’s way easier to apply the things I’m learning into my day-to-day life—which ultimately strengthens me, my family, and my business.
My Evernote process:
(1) Create as many Notebooks as you need to organize the things you learn. I have three.
(2) Create a Notebook Stack for those notebooks. I call mine “Education Stack.”
(3) Create a new note as you move forward for each course, book, ebook, article, etc. that has ideas you want to record and remember.
Use a title with logical keywords, and perhaps the date you read/consumed that information.
For anything you learn, you may want to add questions to think about or symbols to note actions you want to take on that information. This legend is from episode 7 of the podcast:
For physical books, if you highlight, take a photograph and put that into the note. Or scan/photograph the paragraphs that mean the most to you. You could also do voice-to-text or voice memos to capture information and explain your thoughts.
Here’s a quick video showing how I take book notes and put them into Evernote:
For audiobooks or podcasts, take screen shots of the time stamps, and then either go back and listen/type those quotes or ideas you loved—or delegate that to an assistant or child.
For videos, take screen shots, as well, and add in checklists/summaries of what the videos taught (if they’re not included inside a program…).
For online articles, copy the link, but then also copy as much of the text as you can—because you never know when a link will break or something won’t be available anymore online.
(4) Extract any actionable information before you move on.
If you used the note-taking symbols, you’ll be able to easily scroll through the note and pull those out.
Otherwise, do a quick skim.
Put those into your Command Central as a new project, a routine, a task, an idea to incubate, etc.
Would you like to see an example of a note from my Book Notes notebook in Evernote? In this note, I took notes on a digital book called The Power of Concentration, by Theron Q. Dumont. Click here or on the image below to access the Evernote note and save to your Evernote account!
QUESTION: Do you have any tips or tricks that have helped you to more easily apply the wonderful things you learn?
CHALLENGE: The next time you learn something—no matter how small—and you think, “Wow—I’d like to do something with this information,” create a note inside of Evernote (or the software of your choice) and follow the steps listed above.
Have you ever learned something new then immediately felt overwhelmed because you don’t know how to implement what you’ve learned while still managing the rest of the things on your lists? In our free class, we teach four steps that you can implement today to make forward movement in your life.
In fact, if you want to get the most out of our class, you can use the method outlined here to go through, get the slides, transcript, screenshots, and put them into one note!
There is so much stress involved with all the piles–physical or mental. But we want to help you eliminate those piles for good. Just click here or on the picture below to join our class. We look forward to serving you!
If your email inbox is overwhelming you, our free video training shows you exactly how to get your emails to zero – and keep them there – in 90 minutes or less. Come check it out!
Rhonda H says
Hi, April and Eric,
I’ve been researching ways to help my son who has dysgraphia with taking notes during lectures. Most people aren’t familiar with dysgraphia, but in short, it is a “cousin” to dyslexia. Instead of seeing letters backward, a symptom of dyslexia, people with dysgraphia might write their letters backward, above or below the baseline, run words together, and leave out punctuation, capitalization, or forget how to form a letter altogether.
We are using a typing-spelling program to teach keyboarding and spelling. Grammarly will help when writing a paper or an essay, but it won’t help with note-taking in class.
So, I’m excited about exploring EverNote to help him gather all his class information together for studying purposes. In a current class, he has online homework, in-class lectures with handwritten notes and powerpoints, and printed homework. We’re looking for ways to get the most out of class without having to take notes by hand.
Just wanted to let you know how your information on EverNote has helped us form an action plan for success in college.
The H Family in Arkansas
April Perry says
Rhonda, thank you for sharing this!!! We so appreciate you letting us know, and I love how you are helping your son so deliberately. Beautiful work!!! xoxo
Lisa Michelle says
Great podcast episode! I know I make fun of Eric for his Dad jokes, but I actually really liked the Narnia-your business. haha–keep ’em coming.
I created my Education noteobook and my first note was for LDB’s Episode 33.
–>My action item was to figure out which Kelly Leveque smoothie is your go-to because I tried looking it up and she has a lot! If you can’t share the recipe, maybe the name of the smoothie or basic ingredients or something?
April Perry says
You’re so cute–that joke did make me laugh, too. 🙂 Congrats on creating your notebook!
And I adapted Kelly’s to make it like this:
1 1/2 cups almond milk
3-4 handfuls spinach
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
2 T cocoa powder
2 T shredded coconut (unsweetened)
1/2 T ground flax seed
1 T xylitol
It seriously fills me up and is sooooo good. 🙂
Lisa Schader says
Thanks so much for your reply! Can’t wait to try it. 🙂
Jeannette Kohlhaas says
Hi April and Eric,
I”m Back!! I LOVED this Podcast! I have a VERY Smart bookshelf, and who knows where to find the many ideas I’ve thought about in the past!? You’re right, we Never go back and read notes! Question on Notebooks under Education Stack. In Real Estate, would I have a Notebook for Conferences/Trainings and then a NOTE for Convention 2018, and another NOTE for Fall 2018 Mastermind Conference. And then would you use Tags for info and photos for Listings, buyers, Lead Gen ( under Lead gen, I could have notes for door knocking, calling expireds, calling fsbos, calling sphere) that I learned at the conference….OR, would Lead Gen be a Notebook and the different types be a note? like a Working with Sellers Notebook, Working with Buyers Notebook and put different notes under the notebook. Would I have a Motivational Quotes Notebook or Note? Would “My Listings” be a Notebook and 123 Main St be a NOTE, and each listing, is a Note with all notes and photos?
April Perry says
Great questions! Yes on the Conference question—one note for each meeting. You could definitely add tags. I don’t use tags, but many people love them! I can usually search the word I need, or I remember “the August Conference had some good stuff…”.
I like the idea of having a separate notebook stack for “Real Estate Client Management” that is separate from Education. Then you could have a notebook for “Working with Sellers” and another for “Working with Buyers” where you have checklists, etc. you can reference when needed. That would be a GREAT place for templates and documents.
For Motivational quotes, I think it depends on how many you are talking about. If you have 100, they could be in 1 note, but if you have thousands, you could categorize into multiple notes into a notebook. I usually start with fewer notebooks and expand as needed.
For Listings, I would put those in your “Real Estate Client Management” stack and have “Current” and “Archived” and “Potential” listings where you keep photos, contact information, details, etc.
Or you could rename/break that into multiple STACKS and have “General Real Estate Management” for forms and general checklists and three “Client Account Management” stacks for current, archived, and potential clients. Then you could have a notebook for each client listing—to easily upload documents, audios, videos, photos, email correspondence, etc.
It would be pretty awesome to have all your client info in one notebook. You could email them links to your notes, if needed, and easily forward their emails or contracts into the notebook.
Elvery Tinsley says
Thank you! This is very helpful. I use OneNote same idea as Evernote. I didnt think about the screen shots, etc.
April Perry says
I’m actually looking forward to giving OneNote a try so I can compare the two. I’ve heard great things about it and am glad that these ideas can work for both!!
I am anxious to hear your thoughts on a comparison. Right now I have both Evernote and OneNote and keeping things in two different places is not optimal.
April Perry says
I think the decision is totally based on the individual. Looking at features, pricing, and convenience with how you typically work. I don’t use Microsoft products, so OneNote isn’t natural for me, and I love that Evernote can scan my handwriting and any text in uploaded documents. My husband uses it too, and it just feels really natural. But I haven’t used OneNote, so I’m not 100% sure what would be the best fit. But I wish you luck!
This was my favorite podcast. I love learning but then get hung up when I want to record something but can’t at the moment. I have been doing the screenshots but I had never thought about adding that to Evernote with the quote or voice memo. Another tool that I love for these types of notes and also works with Evernote is my Rocketbook. Thank you for sharing this in multiple formats as I’m such a visual learner but I also enjoy listening to podcasts.
April Perry says
Wonderful!! Thanks so much, Rochele! I have a Rocketbook but have never exported the notes or “erased” it. I don’t know what my mental holdup is. For some reason it feels scary. I will need to give it a try. So glad to know you’re enjoying yours! Thank you for sharing and for being with us!!
Candas Ifama says
Love this podcast and seriously loved the Narnia joke and April laughing uncontrollably at the end. Such fun.
I love Evernote too. I’d used some
of the tips you shared but I especially loved learning about taking photos of passage I highlight and saving them right into an Evernote and taking notes on the thing right there. So awesome! Thanks for always giving great content!
April Perry says
You’re so welcome! Thanks Candas!! I love that you are already highlighting and saving notes as you read, and I hope that there are many happy years of learning ahead for you. 🙂 Thanks for being with us at LearnDoBecome!!!
Candas Ifama says
Hi April, now that Evernote has templates would you consider creating a template and sharing it with us?
Kristen Archuleta says
I just watched a quick video explaining templates. From what I saw and what read on the Evernote website, it doesn’t look like templates themselves are shareable (outside of the templates from their own database).
That said, any note can be saved as a template, so all that you would need to do is save the note to your Evernote, then save it as a template. This is a feature available to users with Evernote Plus, Premium, and Business.
Hope this helps!
I’ve been on the fence about whether I want to transition to Evernote (I currently use a mix of paper, Google Docs and Diigo.com), so this podcast was useful. However, one question this raised for me was how you balance recording everything on your phone/computer vs. trying to not constantly be on your devices–or if this is even a concern for you? As a mother of young children, I try to be quite deliberate about limiting my own screen time in order to model being present. (Not to mention the fact that the minute the phone comes out, the kids immediately stop whatever they were happily previously doing to see what Momma is doing on the coveted phone). I love the benefits of technology and the searchability of Evernote, etc. but don’t want to constantly be dependent on a device.
Danielle Porter says
Rachel- good questions! I have little people around me as well. One thing that has really helped me is designating what I want on paper and what I like digital (sounds like you are doing this). I use a paper planner- for the reasons you mention. I use evernote for alllllll the things concerning my projects, notes, lists… I utilize Evernote daily (for example- I keep my ongoing shopping lists here- but I don’t need to open it hourly, I generally will update it weekly with my current projects, then pull the next actions into my paper planner. So it helps me manage all my mind space, but I ‘work’ and ‘run’ during the day from paper. 🙂 Also it has been very helpful for me to let my kids know what I am doing when I do need to be on my phone. If I can put the phone down to give them full attention I will, but if I need to finish something I’ll let them know who I am sending a text to, or that I am adding a note to my shopping list, etc. 🙂
Kristen Archuleta says
I also have young children and thought I’d share just a few ideas:
On Evernote – one really great feature of Evernote is it’s ability to search pictures and attachments for text and even handwriting! So if you prefer to take notes on a piece of paper or in a notebook, you could simply snap a picture/scan those notes into Evernote at a time that is better for you. (I use the app, Scannable, to scan things into Evernote. It’s made by Evernote, so integrates well.)
On deliberate screen time – I totally rely on routines to make regular time to get things done I need to on the computer or on my phone. One of my children is participating in an online preschool program (Upstart), which he does every morning after breakfast. My daughter loves to watch, so for about an hour after breakfast I have some time when I can get things done on the computer. We do naps/quiet time after lunch for another 1 1/2-2 hours, and all the kids (school age, too) have an early bedtime, 7-7:30pm. So on days that I don’t have other commitments and I have enough energy, these are great times for me to get things done that involve screens.
On finding time for personal development – because much of my screen time needs to be used on other things, I prefer to listen to audiobooks and podcasts for much of my personal development. I can have my phone in a pocket or screen down on the counter. That way I can still be learning, without it drawing kids to the screen. It’s also great for car rides! Much of what I am listening to is probably above what my kids can really understand, but I think it can’t hurt to have them listening and learning right along with me. And then we balance it with some fun kids’ books on audio from the library (OverDrive) or purchased on Audible, and it’s fun for everyone!
In terms of capturing material for notes, I take a screenshot of the spot I want to capture. Then, when I am processing the photos on my phone (every 1-2 months), I can go back to that spot in the audio and either type it out or search for that phrase in the corresponding eBook and copy it into my notes. 🙂
Hope this helps spark some ideas for you!
It has been SUPER helpful for me to learn how you do this. Feeling overwhelmed with all the info I’m reading and listening to (whilst parenting) and having no system in place to document the “nuggets of wisdom” has been a real stumbling block for me! April – you have been such a mentor to me – I’m so grateful for all you have done and continue to do. Thank you for AGAIN being there with answers when I’ve really needed them. Much love. Keep shining!!
April Perry says
Thank you, Sarah! It means so much to know this is helpful. So glad you’re with us here at LearnDoBecome. This community is amazing, and we’re all here to help each other! 🙂
Jill Adams says
These are such great comments and questions! Rachel, I love that you asking, and seeking to find the best match for both you and your family. I would also add that I love using technology for family purposes about 3 x a day. I start my day by referencing my online calendar and then outlining my day in my planner. I also check email. Around lunchtime I will check email, and then at the end of the day I do my end of day routine which includes email, journaling, and noting a memory now in my Day One online family journal. I find it best to do these tasks before the kids wake up or after they are in bed. I can be more focused, and also don’t feel any guilt between family time and planning time. The other thing I use is “SIRI” on my iPhone. I can simply add a task with a voice command to my “ASANA” application, so that way I don’t have to be “on my phone.” This has been a great feature for me so I don’t forget the thought of action that needs attention. I think finding the system that works best for you is key! Even if it is a piece of paper that you jot ideas on during the day, as long as you have a place to keep your mind empty. It sounds like you are doing fantastic! Keep up the great work!
Susan Dunleavy says
I love this podcast and I have been struggling with what to do about notes from such educational sources. I attend so many educational events and take lots of notes and pictures of slides so as I was just attempting to organize my first Notebook I ran into a storage problem. Evernote is telling me that my Note size limit is reached. I am using Evernote Plus and the solutions are reduce note size or upgrade to Premium.. Do you know how I can reduce the note size? There are no instructions for that . Also,do you know if I upgrade to Evernote premium, will I have sufficient space for more Notes in this Notebook?
Taryn Wood says
Susan, thanks for your comment. We’re glad this post has been helpful to you. This link shows the system limits for each level of Evernote membership: https://help.evernote.com/hc/en-us/articles/209005247-Evernote-system-limits. Reducing note size can be as simple as copying & pasting part of the info into a second note. We hope this is helpful. Thanks for being part of our community!
I am still looking up very basic YouTube videos of how to use Evernote. I’ve somehow made notebooks but know I can do a lot more with what you’re teaching. Thank you for this podcast. Once I get a handle on Evernote, I may take a look at Asana. It’s a little overwhelming, but the STEP system is a life changer!
Liz Fackelman says
Do you play Pokémon Go. I spotted a photo from the game amidst your photos. Just curious how you use the game in your life? Motivation to walk more, reward, distraction, shared activity with family or friend?
April Perry says
Hey Liz! For a few months there (when I created this post), my teenage son played it occasionally with his friends. He doesn’t have a smart phone, so I let him use mine. 😀 I played it once or twice with him… We decided, though, that it is one of those games that can quickly become addictive, so we phased out of it. It’s that balance of fun/bonding verses not-so-healthy quest for “more.” Board games are my favorites. ❤️