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Learning and Note Taking

“Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow.”

- Anthony J. D’Angelo

Do you enjoy learning about different topics? In this article I’ll show you how to incorporate interest-based learning notes into your bullet journal. 

I love learning a skill from scratch, getting my hands on as much reading and video material as possible, and then practicing it as a hobby until I feel as if I know everything I can about said skill. Some hobbies stick, while others become a memory. I enjoy it all because these are experiences that feed my creativity; and creativity is what keeps me going.

My current hobbies include hand lettering and calligraphy (I’ve been practicing since 2016), reading fiction and non-fiction, sketching (mostly florals), gardening, and baking. I’m also learning techniques for gouache painting, stamp making and book binding.

I stay organized and engaged with each hobby that I try by being intentional about the process of learning and writing down notes in my bullet journal.

Plant notes in my bullet journal - not all my notes look like this.

Why I take learning notes

I take notes about everything I learn because:

  • It helps me stay present and engaged

  • I retain more information and for longer when I use a pen and paper to jot things down

  • It keeps my hand busy so I don’t fidget while I’m listening or watching

  • I can be creative by adding sketches or hand lettering (sometimes at a later time)

  • I reflect on my notes for self-discovery and incorporate them into my intentions

How I take learning notes

My process of learning a new skill starts with taking notes about what I’m reading, watching or listening to. 

  1. I write high level notes with a few quotes and follow up items in my bullet journal. Usually, I would create a new Collection in my bullet journal that’s topic-based when I’m watching a video, participating in a course, reading an informative book, and so on.
  2. I reflect on those notes and often re-write them with more details in another notebook. I keep a separate notebook from my bullet journal that’s dedicated to my interests and hobbies. In this interest-based notebook, I write down notes that I can quickly refer to without having to flip through past bullet journals to find information about a subject.
  3. I decide whether these notes are actionable to incorporate them into my schedule or purely informational. This step often helps me form new habits and hobbies.

Writing notes about a book I read in a notebook dedicated to my interests.

How you can start taking learning notes

If you don’t currently take notes when you’re learning, reading, or watching informational content, I encourage you to start with the goal of being intentional about capturing your learning experience in your bullet journal.

3 steps to help you incorporate learning notes in your bullet journal:

Step 1: Take notes as you’re learning by rapid logging in your Daily Log. Include highlights, quotes and actionable items.

Step 2: Create a Collection that’s either topic-based or general notes depending on whether this will be a recurring learning subject or one-time reference material. Migrate the notes you took in the Daily Log into your new Collection with more details and include sketches or drawings if you like visuals; otherwise, keep it text-only.

Alternatively, you could rewrite any notes that you would like to revisit in the  future into a separate reference or interest-based notebook.

Step 3: Write down in your Index what Collection pages are devoted to your learning notes so you can find them easily later on.

Getting creative with your notes

I recently took a workshop with author and illustrator Emily Mills about Sketchnoting (a method of notetaking that was created by Mike Rohde.) Sketchnoting is basically when you use words and drawings to tell a sequential story that is experience or lecture based. 

Normally, I tend to do note taking using words mostly, but adding in some visual sketches and sketchnoting techniques has opened my eyes to a new world of creative note taking.

Sketchnoting in my bullet journal.

If drawing is not your thing, then feel free to bypass this method and stick with the steps above on using text only.

Reflecting on your notes

For me, reflecting on my notes is as important as taking the notes themselves. I give myself time to read over my notes later and think about how this information impacts me.

Some questions I reflect on when reviewing my notes are: Why did I seek out the information in the first place? Did it spark something in me that I had never thought about before? Can I use this as a journaling prompt to get more ideas? Is this something I can put into practice as a hobby or habit?

To Summarize

Learning is a continuous process and it is part of our daily experience. Taking notes while you are learning a new skill, hobby, or just taking in new information can help you be more intentional about being present and putting that information into practice. 

You can use your bullet journal to include learning notes, and/or you can have a dedicated notebook, and you can be as artistic as you want with your notes. Whatever your style is, you do you! The goal is to retain the information, enhance your life in some way and practice what you learn. 

Take the time to reflect on your notes and any progress you make in practice (use a tracker or journal entries) to stay motivated. And just keep learning!


Mike Rohde on Sketchnoting

Emily Mills on Visual Notetaking


About the author:

Carola is a hand letterer, calligrapher and creative hobbyist who shares tips and how-tos on journaling and planning at and on Instagram as @fromcarola.

1 Response

John Griffith

John Griffith

February 21, 2024

Thank you for the tips on note taking. I will try these suggestions for note taking and hope to gain better skills in note taking while improving my retaining of knowledge in the said topic.

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