Setting up notes for student

Things I have tried

I've been watching countless videos and reading on this forum but still don't think I have what I am looking for.

What I’m trying to do

I'm an economics student and I've set up a vault for one of my classes because it's more history based (I usually write my notes out using iPad Pro because econ = lots of maths, but this is very heavy on words so typing is more efficient).

Anyway, it’s a single vault for a single course.
(1) Do I create a new note for every lecture? (they follow through in chronological order focussing on big economic events from 11kBC to present day) OR;
(2) Do I create a new note for every sub-topic within each lecture and link it back to the general lecture topics it gets mentioned in OR;
(3) A mix of both with me creating a single note during each lecture and typing all of my notes out there and then for larger “sub-topics” creating small notes OR;
(4) Something else entirely

I’m so confused, I don’t know which is the best method, and I’m swapping note taking programs halfway through my Semester so it’s a bit difficult and stressful.
Please let me know what you do.

Well, there’s no right answer. Different folks will have different ideas for the best way to approach this.

I suggest working backwards. What’re you trying to do or achieve with these notes? Pass the course? Carry the knowledge forward? Relate historical study with your developing knowledge of economics?

Based on the goal(s) you decide upon, you can decide what the best model and structure might be. If memorization to pass some exams is key, you might want to make sure it’s easy to study your notes. If I were you, and that was what I was trying to do, I’d probably “note to the test” (as in “teach to the test”). Look up rubrics and exam outlines, create notes about those things, then as you attend lectures and read study material you can align the notes you’re making with the notes you’ve created about what you’re going to be tested on.

A similar approach can be used for assignments and essays, etc.

If you’re building out your notes for a different purpose, then adapt the above to that purpose. Think through and write out what you’re trying to do. By reifying that thinking, you’re creating a “target” to aim for. Then, as you progress through your studies, craft your notes with that in mind.

But—and this is important—don’t get bogged down with trying to have the perfect structure/approach before you start. Instead, address your work with flexibility, and be willing to let your future self see what you did at first as “wrong.” In other words, expect to change your structure as your thinking evolves.

Last thing: don’t worry too much about what a note is.

Should a lecture be a note? Yes. What about an event? Yes. Sub-topic? Yes.

A single note file is just a place to put something under a label. So is a heading, and so is a vault. So it’s sorta fractal. The more you break things down, the more you’re able to collate and relate the different nodes of thought you’re instantiating in your vault. But that takes time and energy.

So, instead of stressing, do what feels natural, and be willing to go back and change the things you wrote before.


Note taking during a lecture should focus on collecting information, not categorizing, cross-linking, or collating it.

Let’s presume that you are typing directly into Obsidian (mobile) during the lecture. With the above in mind, during a lecture …

==> Do not make new Obsidian note for each topic. This step adds administrative overhead in the case where how rapidly you can capture an incoming thought is paramount.

What you do with your notes after the lecture matters. If you simply put away your notes, you have collected knowledge, nothing else. By analogy … you have assembled a bunch of tools and simply tossed them randomly in boxes in your basement.

The first step in learning (following loosely the Bloom’s taxonomy) is to understand what you have collected. This involves categorizing, cross-linking, and collating the notes. This is the first review of your notes. Here you are free to do whatever approach is best for your learning.

On approach might be to create in advance a folder for raw lecture notes and folders for chapters in the course. Date stamp each Obsidian note for a lecture, just take notes, and keep the lecture notes in the raw folder. At your first review, split the raw notes by sub-topic using copy + paste, putting the split parts each into a new note in the chapter folders. At your second review, make the cross links among the categorized notes to build a network within the information.



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