Note-taking 2.0


How do you learn and remember things?  There are supposed to be all kinds and styles of learning…visual, auditory, etc., etc.  I’m not really sure what type I am, but I do know that writing things down helps me remember.  Whether or not I ever go back to those notes, the act of writing helps cement them in my mind.

Some time ago, my husband and I read that studies have shown that people who doodle while listening retain more.  Well, this was all I needed to hear.  I had often doodled, but now we started being a bit more intentional about it, occasionally adding little images to our notes or just drawing while listening.

Recently I saw something about a new book called The Sketchnote Handbook by Mike Rohde.  Well, I was intrigued, and I requested it from my library so I could see what it was all about.  You know when you find an idea, and it all just clicks?  It’s like someone has taken your nascent or half-formed thought and fleshed it out in the perfect way.  That was how I felt when I looked through this book.

The Sketchnote Handbook by Mike Rohde via Pattern and Branch

The Sketchnote Handbook by Mike Rohde

Actually, the truth is, it took me awhile to look through the book, because my husband was so intrigued that he snagged it first and read through the whole thing…and loved it.  It’s an easy and quick read because a lot of the information is in…you guessed it…sketch notes.  Mike Rohde put a name to all the “doodles” that so many people draw to illustrate their notes and then took it to the next level by intentionally making his notes a combination of graphics, type, textures, and symbols.  He listens for the big ideas and those that resonate with him and then converts them into this more visual form of note taking.

He also makes it accessible for everyone.  I studied art in college, but I am not great at drawing people.  He addresses that–it’s not about art, it’s about recording ideas.  My husband has no art training at all, but he creates great sketchnotes.  In fact, both of us are more excited about note taking than we have ever been.  We go to church on Sundays and listen to sermons and Sunday School classes, and occasionally we’ll go to a talk at a college, grad school, or (in my case) an art gallery.  We’ve become excited to write down ideas and compare our sketchnotes afterward.

The Sketchnote Handbook by Mike Rohde via Pattern and Branch

One of the things that I really appreciate is that Mike Rohde gives you ideas and strategies to learn to take notes in this way if you have never done it before, as well as illustrations from professional designers, so you can see what is possible.

The Sketchnote Handbook by Mike Rohde via Pattern and Branch

The Sketchnote Handbook by Mike Rohde via Pattern and Branch

Even if your life doesn’t involve listening to lectures, sermons, talks, or panels, you can use these principles in your day-to-day life for writing down contact information, dates and appointments, or lists of to-do items.  It’s a great way to remember better and have more fun with information.  In fact, I think it could easily go beyond recording information and also generate new ideas.  I guess it’s sort of like going down a note taking version of the rabbit hole in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.  You never know what to expect, but you can be sure it will be interesting.


About Lisa Poblenz (patternandbranch)

I love sewing and taking pictures! Pattern and Branch is my sewing blog with periodic photography posts (and occasional other side wanderings). It's a journal of my creative practice that I hope will add to the wider community and serve as a personal record to help me remember the details of my projects (because sometimes I need help with that). Welcome to this space! Join in the conversation!

5 responses »

  1. Love this idea for the classroom! I’m forever trying to get my notes and my kids’ notes to be more picture heavy. Thanks so much for sharing this; I’m super excited to check it out!


  2. Hey, thanks for the great review of my book Lisa! This was a wonderful surprise for me, partly to see a nice review but partly because you and your husband seem to resonate with the idea. 🙂

    I appreciate the kind words and that you have shared my book with others!



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