How to stop drowning in notes (or lack thereof) – PART 1

If there’s one thing that I can absolutely guarantee no student has ever complained about ever, it’s not having enough content to learn. This particular issue is a million times worse for anyone who has decided to enter any kind of medical profession (I know, this one is for the human medics too *dry heaves*). The volume of work combined with the fact that you will need it throughout your career (or all your patients will die and it will be terrible) creates a rather annoying problem.

So, how can you stay on top of your notes? and, more importantly, how can you make them stay inside your brain? As with anything, the first step is admitting that you have a problem and this first part is going to help you find out exactly what that problem is …


STEP 1 – Are your notes actually present?

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This is a safe space, no judgement. But look inwards and ask yourself: have I actually got any notes written up? or, you know, look at your desk, or the cloud (because the future is now) and see if you’ve got anything saved.

For those of you who are up to date with notes: Look at you, aren’t you doing great! But here’s the follow up: what kind of volume are we talking here? Do you have folders and folders of paper, is it all getting a bit much? (I mean if you’re reading this your notes can’t be perfect. Or maybe they are and you came here to gloat. Fair)

For those of you who are slightly lacking in the note department: This is usually for one of two reasons: Life (read Netflix) has gotten in the way, or you’re still working tirelessly writing up lectures from four months ago. Now, cards on the table, my natural state is a healthy mix of both of these so I know the feeling. But, don’t worry, we’re going to fix this.

STEP 2 – Do you remember anything you’ve done?

Screen Shot 2018-10-22 at 16.25.45

So this kind of works for people with too many or too few notes. If you’ve got a tonne of notes, how many details do you remember? If you’ve forgotten everything, how long is it going to take for you to revise content? 5 mins? 20 years? Would it be easier to just watch the lecture back to get all the key information? Also, have you rushed through your initial notes just so you can tell everyone you’re up-to-date and make them feel bad? (I’m really not bitter I promise).

For those of you who with all the enthusiasm but none of the written bit, how good are the notes you’ve got so far and are they good enough to justify being this far behind? Do the maths in your head – when are your exams? How far behind will you be by then? (Are you panicking yet?)


STEP 3 – The side by side

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The test to end all tests to figure out whether your notes are pointless bollocks or not:

  1. Get your notes
  2. Get your lecture slides
  3. Are they exactly the same thing?
  4. Cry

Now, some lecturers aren’t gifted when it comes to slides, I know. I really know. But when they are (or at least moderately passable) YOU DO NOT NEED TO COPY THEM OUT AGAIN. If these are your notes, don’t worry – literally everyone has done this, first year me included. What happened? Well by the time I got to exams I knew about half the content I needed to and had to learn half the course in a week. So yeah, maybe not.

“But wait!” I hear you cry, “I learn by writing things out!” Well chill out, next week I’m going to show you how you can keep writing things out, but do it better. How’s that for promoting future posts?




Do any of these sound like you? Do you have a completely different problem? Well tune in next week when I will share how I fixed my note taking to make it both aesthetic and functional (although you probably won’t get assessed on the former). 

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