Now that I’ve had my iPad Pro for a while, I’ve finally settled into a routine for managing my course notes. I rely on two main apps (Goodnotes and Evernote) and both my Macbook Pro and iPad Pro.
Setting Up for the Week
Each week before class, I duplicate an existing copy of my weekly course notes to save time typing out my preferred format. It’s broken down into Administrative (typically action items or important information about the course), a list of assigned readings, an area for taking notes during that week’s lecture, and a place for the lecture slides.
(Note in the screenshot above I have two reminders listed in the sidebar. They serve as a workaround to pin notes to the top like Apple Notes. Until Evernote decides to add the feature, this is the next best thing. I just turn off notifications so I’m not pestered by dates.)
Next, I download the assigned readings for the next week as well as the lecture slides from the previous class from the course site on Blackboard. Newly assigned readings get put into Goodnotes on the Mac. While I’m in Goodnotes, I also export any readings from the previous week to PDF and delete the previous week’s category.
Back in Evernote, I create notes for each of the new readings and link to them in the weekly note using the Copy Note Link feature. I used to include my reading notes directly in the Weekly notes, but after noticing a few of the assigned readings were papers I’d already read for another class, I switched to keeping my notes directly with the papers themselves, linking each class to the single note for the paper. It makes noticing connections a lot easier.
The last step in preparing for the week is to create tasks in Omnifocus. I typically prefer to have all the assignments plugged in at the start of the semester, but for this class, it’s easier to enter them on a weekly basis.
With set up done, I switch to my iPad Pro for reading and annotation within Goodnotes. If something seems particularly noteworthy I make note of that in the stub note in Evernote, but for the most part, the annotation is sufficient.
During class, I use my iPad Pro to switch between typing notes into Evernote and making additional annotations in Goodnotes.
The day after class, I make sure my weekly note for the previous class is complete by adding the final annotated copy of the readings into the stub notes I created for them (they’re already linked to the main weekly note), adding the lecture slides. I end up with something that looks a bit like this.
And then it’s time to start this whole process over for the next week!
2 thoughts on “My Grad School Notetaking Workflow”
I have been organizing my Grad School notes in a similar fashion with Goodnotes and OneNote, but have recently switched over to Evernote. I like that you copy a link to the readings instead of adding them, and exporting the previous week’s notes to PDF and archiving. Great read, helps me with my current vision of organization!
I should probably do an update on this as I’ve greatly simplified this for my current class which is more lecture based than discussion. I think I probably would still stick with the workflow mentioned above if there were more discussion though. The linking back to the note came primarily out of having read the same paper for multiple classes (in different contexts). It allowed me to reuse the same article with all of my previous notes and highlights.
The reason for why I switched things up this semester was that Apple seems to have quietly added the ability to change the pencil weighting in the stock “Markup” feature. The default weights were a bit too thin for my liking. Now that I can change that, I’ve been working entirely out of the Files app, with my files synced via my university’s cloud storage. It’s nice being able to annotate pdfs without worry about moving things around.