Patterned notes are something I tried once, and disliked.

I’m not entirely sure why. It may be simply the way I went about it the first time, and had a bad experience. It may be that I’m a linear, logical person and all these dashes of colour and circles didn’t work for me. A third option (quite plausible) is that I decided not to like dashes of colour and circles and all that artistic rot. An attitude problem? Who, me? Never!

Here are two examples of patterned notes- Monash University and Ecoles. The idea of patterned notes is instead of writing a linear outline, let your notes be more visual and graphical; to describe your brain’s thinking.

Musing about my ideas on notetaking and noting only the important facts, I’m suspecting I’ll have to give patterned notes another go. I won’t bother with artistic flourishes or coloured pens or anything like that. I’ll simply have a blank piece of scrap paper, ready to write ideas on scattered over the paper, drawing lines to connect them to each other.

The great thing about patterned notes is that it connects ideas and principles together visually. Our brains don’t exactly work like a straight outline. It works like splodges of paint, an idea over here and an idea over there, and we draw connections between these two ideas. That’s how your brain works, and that’s how patterned notes work.

But the really useful thing for me about patterned notes is that I’m not trying to write down every detail. I’m trying to catch the main principles, the major points that the speaker is making. When I hear an important fact, I write it down. At the end, I’m left with a collection of the major points that the speaker was making, not drowned out by all the little details.

An Illustration

Notice how free-flowing the ideas are

In my illustration here, in a hypothetical lecture about post-modernism; our hypothetical lecturer says that Post-modernism believes everything is relative, there are no absolutes. I scribble that somewhere on the page, and draw a line between it and Post-Modernism, to show that these ideas are connected to each other.

The lecturer goes on to say that therefore, post-modernism believes that science is overrated, because it pretends to be an absolute answer. So I write that down near the previous point, and draw a line between “science is overrated” and “believes everything relative”, to show that the ideas are related.

I drew this simple illustration up on OneNote on my computer; no doubt I will improve my patterned note-taking skills as I go on.  I certainly won’t be abandoning normal, linear notes, indeed, most of my notes will be in that style; it’s just another tool in the woodshed.