12 SMART Goals Examples for Note Taking

Note taking is a skill that can drastically boost academic or professional performance. It’s more than jotting down information; it’s about summarizing, organizing, and simplifying complex ideas for better understanding and recall.

But how do you enhance this crucial skill? One proven method is by setting SMART goals. In this article, we will provide practical examples of SMART goals tailored specifically for the art of note taking.

Whether you’re a student aiming for higher grades or a professional looking to capture and utilize information more efficiently, these goals can guide your journey toward note-taking mastery.

What is a SMART Goal?

The SMART framework offers an efficient approach to setting goals within the realm of note taking.

Comprising 5 elements (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-based), SMART can guide learners and professionals toward enhanced note-taking skills:


Being specific amplifies the chances of success in note taking. Instead of saying, “I want to take better notes,” one could aim to “Increase shorthand writing speed to 50 words per minute.”

By jotting down these precise objectives for each study or work session, individuals can remain focused and track their improvement over time.


Those aiming to improve their note taking should set goals that allow them to monitor their progress. This might involve tracking metrics like the number of symbols or abbreviations used per lecture or the frequency of reviewing notes after class.

Documenting this enables you to adjust your strategies based on overall performance. You’ll clearly understand how close you are to meeting the desired target.


Goals should be ambitious yet realistic. For instance, if students aim to use a digital note-taking app, they must ensure it’s feasible given their current technical skills and available resources.


Ensure the goals tie into your overall academic or professional growth. You can better comprehend your motivation and create manageable targets if they relate to your everyday tasks. There’s also an increase in satisfaction when you see the direct impacts of your efforts.


Understand that every goal should ideally have a timeline. For example, “I aim to master the Cornell Note-Taking System by the end of the next semester.”

Recognize that having a robust deadline fosters a sense of urgency. It helps to reduce procrastination, motivating you to work more diligently towards your objective.

12 SMART Goals Examples for Note Taking

1. Get Creative With Note-Taking Styles

“For the next four weeks, I’ll explore different note-taking styles, including bullet journals and sketching. I plan to devote 30 minutes daily to practicing these techniques and experimenting with new ideas.”

Specific: This is explicit because the individual has identified a timeline in which they want to explore different note-taking styles.

Measurable: The notetaker can gauge progress by checking off their completed activities.

Attainable: It is realistic to set aside 30 minutes of practice a day for exploring different note-taking styles.

Relevant: You must be creative with note-taking in order to stay organized and productive.

Time-based: Success should be accomplished after four whole weeks.

2. Be Prepared to Take Notes Anywhere

“I want to be prepared for note taking no matter where I am. In two weeks, I will purchase a notebook and pen or pencil light enough to carry in my bag without feeling weighed down.”

Specific: You aim to purchase supplies suitable for note taking by the end of two weeks.

Measurable: Ensure you purchase a notebook and pen or pencil light enough to carry in your bag.

Attainable: This is reachable because you can go to a store and select an appropriate material.

Relevant: The SMART goal is suitable because it helps them prepare for taking notes anywhere.

Time-based: The statement is time-bound since you have two weeks to succeed.

3. Utilize Digital Storage Solutions

“I will search for the best digital storage solution to store my notes. I’ll then use that platform to organize and back up my documents. After this month, I want to have a digital storage system up and running with all my notes in it.”

Specific: The goal states what needs to be done and when it must be completed.

Measurable: You can check the number of notes stored in a digital storage system.

Attainable: This is an achievable goal since many digital storage solutions are available.

Relevant: This is essential to keeping your notes organized and backed up.

Time-based: There is a timeline of one month for goal attainment.

4. Highlight Key Concepts

“I’ll highlight important concepts and ideas in my notes to help me remember what I read within two weeks. I’ll also make a list to clarify each concept so I can refer back to it when I review my notes.”

Specific: You have well-defined actions: highlight key concepts and create a list to help you remember.

Measurable: Determine what concepts are most important and make sure you refer back to them.

Attainable: This can be achieved with appropriate study techniques and habits.

Relevant: Improving note-taking skills is vital for learning and understanding new material.

Time-based: You should meet the goal over the two weeks ahead.

5. Summarize Notes After Class

“I want to summarize my notes after every class attended to learn better and faster. I’ll review the summary of each lecture within 48 hours of attending it and make sure that I can recall what has been discussed in class.”

Specific: This specifies what needs to be achieved (summarize notes) and how frequently (after every class attended).

Measurable: The number of notes summarized can be counted regularly.

Attainable: It is feasible to summarize one’s notes within 48 hours of the lecture.

Relevant: Summarizing notes would assist with learning and recalling information effectively.

Time-based: The goal is reoccurring. Complete it within 48 hours of attending a lecture.

6. Reframe Complicated Ideas With Visuals

“I’ll strive to create visuals to explain complicated topics straightforwardly by the end of 5 months. By breaking down complex ideas with visual aids such as infographics or diagrams, I hope to make the material more easy to understand.”

Specific: The SMART goal is concise, detailing exactly what to accomplish.

Measurable: Assess whether or not complex topics are better understood with visuals.

Attainable: This can be met by researching different visual aids to explain complex topics better.

Relevant: Some people will be able to learn more effectively with visualization.

Time-based: Five months are needed to reach this note-taking goal.

7. Use Different Colors for Separate Ideas

“I will make it a habit to use different colors for particular ideas when taking notes—highlighting keywords in yellow, indicating questions by underlining them, and jotting down important figures in orange. I want this system to stick within the next two months.”

Specific: You know what to do (use colors for particular ideas) and when (for the next two months).

Measurable: You can count the number of times you’ve used different colors in your notes.

Attainable: Using different colors is a simple task that doesn’t require much effort.

Relevant: This lets you better organize your notes and remember key points later.

Time-based: There is a two-month window to accomplish the goal statement.

8. Include Vocabulary and Definitions

“I’ll update my note-taking skills by learning new vocabulary related to the topics I’m discussing and defining each term while taking notes. I aim to learn at least 10 new words and their definitions within the next month.”

Specific: The goal is clear because it outlines an exact number of new words and definitions that need to be learned over a certain period.

Measurable: You can quantify the new words and definitions you’ve learned over a month.

Attainable: Learning 10 new words and their definitions is possible within one month.

Relevant: This relates to note-taking skills as it requires the learner to expand their vocabulary related to the topics they discuss.

Time-based: Goal achievement will be met over the course of a month.

9. Add Mind Maps Into Notes

“I will strive to include more mind maps in my notes by the end of two months. That should allow me to visualize and organize the key concepts better and ensure that I can recall my notes more easily in the future.”

Specific: This is about incorporating more mind maps into note taking, boosting comprehension of the topics covered.

Measurable: You could check that at least one mind map is included in each set of notes.

Attainable: Adding mind maps is a doable goal that can quickly increase understanding of key concepts.

Relevant: Mind maps are a great way to visualize and recall information, making this goal pertinent to note taking.

Time-based: You have a two-month end date to attain the SMART statement.

10. Incorporate Mnemonic Devices

“Over three months, I hope to learn to use mnemonic devices such as rhymes and acronyms when taking notes. I’ll practice using these methods when I’m studying for exams.”

Specific: Learn to utilize mnemonic devices when taking notes and reviewing material.

Measurable: Monitor the use of rhymes, acronyms, and other mnemonic devices during the studying process.

Attainable: With enough practice, it is possible to incorporate these memory-enhancing methods into one’s note-taking process.

Relevant: Mnemonic devices can help retain information more effectively, making them suitable for improving note-taking strategies.

Time-based: The goal should be achieved within three months.

11. Make Notes Easily Digestible

“The person should be able to make notes easily digestible within two months. After each class, they will use summary sentences for concepts that need further understanding. They will also create one-page summaries of the topics discussed for quick reference.”

Specific: The person should understand that they must take notes after each class and use summary sentences to make it easier to digest information.

Measurable: Count how many summaries you have created per week or how much time you spent making notes for each class.

Attainable: Two months is enough time to get the hang of summarizing information from classes.

Relevant: This particular goal helps them make their notes more readable and easier to recall.

Time-based: You have a two-month deadline to practice and master making summaries.

12. Organize Your Notes by Topic

“Within a week, I’ll strive to organize my notes from class into easily accessible folders on my computer to quickly reference them when needed. I want to set aside 30 minutes to review, compile, and store the material.”

Specific: The goal is clear. You must organize your notes from class in a week.

Measurable: You can assess how long it takes to review, compile, and store the material.

Attainable: Anybody can take the time to organize notes on their computer, assuming they have one.

Relevant: The statement is appropriate for the individual’s desire to organize notes.

Time-based: Goal attainment will be met within a time frame (one week).

Final Thoughts

Developing SMART note-taking goals can significantly impact your academic or professional life. The examples provided in this article are not exhaustive, but they offer a solid starting point.

Whether you are striving to increase your writing speed, learn new methods like the Cornell system, or transition to digital note taking, understand that progress is a journey.

It takes consistent effort and practice, but with these SMART goals in hand, you are well-equipped to become a more proficient notetaker.

As you continue on this path, feel free to adjust your goals as needed to match your evolving needs and circumstances. Here’s to improved note-taking and the enhanced performance that comes with it.

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Rei Shen

Rei is the founder of Success in Depth. Based in Washington, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. He brings years of experience in goal setting to empower readers to reach their aspirations.