You suffer from …

  • Double vision.  Your notecards are so jammed with facts, hand-drawn diagrams, mnemonics, and cross-references that they’re making you cross-eyed.
  • Sleeplessness.  By the time you finish memorizing every little fact about a single bone, it’s two in the morning.
  • Short-term memory loss.  If asked to summarize what you’ve been studying for the last half hour, you couldn’t do it.

If this describes you, you may be a massage therapy student suffering from TMI Syndrome.  Totally unrelated to similarly acronymed TMJ Syndrome, your study habits are afflicted by Too Much Information.

So how to beat it?  Prioritize.  Not all information is equally important.  The most important information for anything is its definition.

Definitions seem like they should be obvious, but they aren’t, necessarily.  For a muscle, the definition would include origin, insertion, action, and innervation.  For a bony landmark, appearance and location.  For a nerve, type, origin, and distribution.

As a base guideline, if you can’t figure out what the hell you were trying to explain with your definition, you haven’t defined it.

GOOD:
refractory period- brief period of time after an action potential begins, during which a muscle fiber or neuron cannot conduct another action potential.

CRAP:
refractory period- period of time made up of the absolute refractory period and the relative refractory period.

The relative and absolute refractory periods are their own terms with their own definitions, and don’t belong in your note about the refractory period in general. 

Keep each note as simple as you can!  Recovery from TMI Syndrome can be swift and liberating.  Learning to focus on the definition of a new term first can also help you out in the long term with learning all the peripheral information, which tends to make a lot more sense after you have the basics down. 

Unfortunately, I have no advice for dealing with the classmate who constantly sends you unsolicited text messages about her extensive sex life.  TMI blows, but you’ll have to deal with that one on your own.

Thoughts on effective notetaking? Leave a comment.

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