How to organise your notes

how-to-organise-your-notes-fIf you are studying you are likely to have a lot of notes and pieces of paper that you need to keep. If you don’t have an organised system for this then you might find that when you come to revise or look for something particular everything is in a big muddle. This is likely to be frustrating and you will end up wasting time trying to find what you need. In this blog post I will share my advice for organising your notes so you can always find what you need quickly and easily. This post is specifically aimed at organising notes that you want to keep, rather than rough notes you might take during a lesson and then write up later.

Decide how to store your notes

There are many different ways to store notes, ranging from notebooks to ring binders/ arch lever files to just random heaps of paper. I recommend either using ring binders or arch lever files. This is because unlike a notebook, they allow you to add things in later on without it looking messy.

You will also need to decide how you want to categorise your notes. Depending on the size of your modules you might want to use a separate folder per module, or you might instead want to have one big arch lever file for a whole year. Whatever system you use, I would suggest keeping notes from different subjects separately.

Use dividers (and sub-dividers)

Using dividers is very important for ensuring that you can find the relevant information quickly and easily again in the future. Depending on how you have decided to catorgrise your notes in the step above, you will need to decide which categories to use dividers for. For example, if you have a folder per module, then you might want to use dividers for each chapter. Alternatively, if you are using a folder per year then you might want to use dividers for each module.

In addition to using normal dividers, I also like to use ‘sub-dividers’. These are basically little post-its that I stick on the side of a page. These are useful for dividing each main topic up. For example, if you are using one big divider per module, then you might want to use a ‘sub-divider’ for each chapter and write the chapter topic on it. Using post-its alongside normal dividers makes your notes more organised but still allows you to see where each main topic is in your folder.

Decide how to store revision materials

If you have revision materials then you will need to decide how you want to store them. You might want to store them alongside their matching notes or you might want to keep them separately, either in the same folder or elsewhere. Whatever you decide, make sure you are consistent. If you have the same system across all your notes you won’t waste time looking for revision materials in the wrong place. If you do decide to store them separately make sure that they are still in some sort of order. This could be by topic or by type, for example, keeping all your revision cards together and all your mind maps together. The main aim is that whatever you do, you should quickly and easily be able to find whatever you need.

Don’t have any loose papers

No matter how organised you think your notes are, if there are loose bits of paper falling out all the time, they won’t feel very organised. Try to have a rule with yourself that you don’t keep loose paper with your notes. Either hole-punch it and put it in the appropriate place, get rid of it if you don’t need it, or store it somewhere else. For things that need to be loose, I suggest getting a clear plastic wallet (the type that you can clip into a folder and has one opening along the top) and keeping everything in there. If things are still likely to fall out, use a paperclip or sellotape to seal it.


Leave a comment to let me know how you normally organise your notes and if you found this blog post helpful 🙂

Ellen Allsop

Hello! I'm Ellen Allsop, the creator of EAsy :)

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1 Response

  1. September 29, 2016

    […] keep my university notes organised in arch-lever files I like to use big card dividers to mark each unit and then little post-it notes […]

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