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The Notebook Method

The Notebook Method

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Published by Naraykln

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Published by: Naraykln on Jun 26, 2009
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03/02/2011

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The Notebook Method: How Pen and Paper Can TransformYou Into a Star Student 
Features: Becoming a Superstar,Tips: Reading Assignments & Problemsets,Tips: Studying, Tips: Paper WritingStudy HacksMarch 20th. 2009, 10:43pm
From Good to Great
 Unlike many hacks you read here, the strategy I want todescribe today is not designed to reduce your study time(though I don’t think it will add much to your scheduleeither). Instead, its purpose is to help you transform froma good student into an
exceptional
student.
 It starts with the simplest possible tools…pen and paper.
 
The Notebook Method
 This method applies to the following academic situations, among others…
 
Writing an essay or paper.
 
Working on a problem set or technical take home exam.
 
Tackling a difficult book or reading assignment.
 
Designing a project for a computer science or engineering class.The idea is simple…1.
 
Buy a sturdy college-ruled notebook
dedicated to the relevant class. (I use the 100page, 1 subject, college-ruledStasher by Roaring Spring, but many people also swear bytheBlack n’ Red.)2.
 
Buy a good pen
. (Nothing beats a black uniball micro 0.5mm.)3.
 
Take your notebook and pen and
go to the most relaxing, meditative, non-distractingplace possible
. The deep stacks of the library is okay. Hiking 30 minutes into the woodsor onto the dunes overlooking a windswept springtime beach is even better.4.
 
Spend 1 - 3 hours working out your thinking on the task at hand in the notebook
.Spend the last 20 minutes carefully summarizing your results on a clean page that youmark with the date and a title.For example, here is a snapshot from a page of my PhD thesis notebook:
 
 Preceding this summary page in the notebook is another few pages of rougher notes, also fromtoday, on which I was trying to work through the tricky details of these same ideas. This finalpage details the polished result of this thinking. I needed to get this right, and a long afternoonwith my notebook was the only way I could coax what I needed from my mind.
Inside the Method
In an age of distraction, the notebook method produces a rare commodity:
high-quality thinking
 — the type of thinking that can make a student into a star.Its power sources from the following truths…1.
 
Writing down your thoughts forces you to clarify what you’re thinking and confrontambiguities or inconsistencies.
It’s hard work! You’ll probably feel painful resistancethe first few times you try this method, but you must persevere. Eventually you gainfamiliarity with the novel sensation of deep thinking.2.
 
You can’t check e-mail using a spiral-bound notebook.
You also can’t update yourFacebook profile or tweet about your YouTube channel. If you’re high up in the librarystacks, or, better yet, in the woods or on the beach, it’s just you and your notebook.Eventually your urge toward distraction will give way.3.
 
Paper facilitates creative thinking.
You can draw arrows, and circle concepts, andsketch structures. Something about a good ballpoint scraping across a thick-grained paper

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