Ten time saving suggestions
1. Keep your notes well organised
- Write on ready-punched file paper. (It can be moved more easily between files, and rearranged as needs arise.) Notebooks are much less convenient.
- When taking notes, write each major point on a different sheet. Then, when you are writing essays or reports, you can shuffle pages as necessary. Make sure each page is adequately headed so that you can put it back in the right file afterwards.
2. Save time writing notes
- Avoid writing notes in full sentences – use headings and keywords.
- Don’t rewrite notes ‘in neat’.
- Leave lots of space so you can add details later.
- Don’t write the same information twice – if two writers make the same point, note in the margin a cross-reference to your earlier notes.
3. Save time looking for notes
- Keep them all in one place.
- File them as you go along.
- Number your pages, and label or colour-code them by subject in the top outer corner, so that you can arrange and find information easily.
- Note where the information came from.
- Keep an (updated) guide to your files.
4. Save time reading
- Use speed reading and skim reading techniques.
- Read only what is relevant to the task at hand. If your writing an essay – discipline and train yourself to identify and read only that which is relevant.
- If something looks interesting for the future but is not relevant now, fill out an index card recording what looked worth reading.
- If you’re using the internet – bookmark pages and websites that might be useful in the future.
5. Save time in writing and looking up your references
- In the margin of your notes, write the page reference from the book.
- For every book, article, etc. that you read, complete an index card.
- Alternatively, keep an updated file of your references on the computer – you will probably use some for more than one assignment. Some word-processing packages have a card-index facility.
6. Use word limits to focus your energies
- You need to research less, read less, note take less and write less for a 1500-word essay than a 3000-word essay. lf you don’t spend less time preparing and writing, you will take extra time later, reducing your notes and cutting text to meet the word limit.
- Map out your work to match the word limit.
7. Save time thinking
- Always carry a small book in which you can record ideas as they occur to you.
- Try ‘brainstorming’ to get your mind working.
8. Save time organising information
- Use numbers and highlighter pens to group information written on different pages, rather than writing it all out again.
- In the early stages of making notes, use small Post-it labels or index cards so that you can shuffle ideas around.
9. Save time writing
- Write assignments directly onto the word-processor.
10. Avoid duplicating effort
- Find a study partner to share research tasks and tactics, and to bounce ideas off.