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  • Processing meeting notes

    Hi all,

    I got the GTD book a week ago and I'm looking forward to implementing it over this next slow week at work.

    I have a job at work where I will attend several meetings about slightly different, but related, projects. I have been taking these notes on a regular notepad. This may sound like a simple question, but what do you do with the notes after they are done?

    If I "process" them, it sounds like I should look through the notes, identify any actions/waiting fors that need attention, write those on a separate tickler or make a reminder in a calendar, and store the notes as reference in a folder that is designated for that project.

    However, I see the drawback of that as not having my meeting notes always "at hand." This is important if:

    - If I am in a meeting on project A and need to look up something related to project B

    - If I am working off-site and need to look something up. If the info is stored in folders, I'd have to lug several folders around.

    Some other people in the office have a permanent notebook (kind of like the lab notebooks used in science class, where you can't rip the pages out), and they take that to every meeting.

    Can anyone offer words of wisdom?

    While I'm on the subject, if anyone has any suggestions for nice looking looseleaf notebooks (leather cover or similar), please suggest.

    Mike

  • #2
    meeting notes and project folders

    Hi Mikey123,

    It sounds like you're doing the right thing - taking notes during the meeting, processing them into your GTD organizing "buckets", then storing the notes in the appropriate project support folders. I have two questions: First, after processing the notes, do you still need to keep them around? I've been surprised by how GTD lets me get rid of some notes after processing them. Second, if you need to keep the notes, I would think it cleanest if you could separate them into ProjectA and ProjectB folders. Then maybe you could get by with just carry around one of them.

    Regarding notebooks, I tend to go with plain file folders for projects, rather than loose-leaf notebooks, but it's really just a personal preference. Try different things to see what works. In my case, if a folder gets to big, I split it into "sub" folders, e.g., ProjectA - Part1, ProjectA - Part2, ...

    Hope this helps! If you're interested, I wrote a related blog post - Dealing with Meeting Notes - GTD to the Rescue!.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Mikey123
      Hi all,

      However, I see the drawback of that as not having my meeting notes always "at hand." This is important if:

      - If I am in a meeting on project A and need to look up something related to project B

      - If I am working off-site and need to look something up. If the info is stored in folders, I'd have to lug several folders around.

      Some other people in the office have a permanent notebook (kind of like the lab notebooks used in science class, where you can't rip the pages out), and they take that to every meeting.

      While I'm on the subject, if anyone has any suggestions for nice looking looseleaf notebooks (leather cover or similar), please suggest.
      I understand your issue to be one of portable, ready reference to meeting notes. There is no one right answer, but here are some decision factors:
      -Do your meetings have agendas? Minutes? If so, are they distributed on paper or electronically?
      -Do you take copious notes at meetings (pages), or just jot down what is relevant to you? How much of what you write down is relevant later?
      -Do you use a laptop? A PDA?
      -Where do you fall on the meticulous/sloppy end of meeting housekeeping? Whatever you do has to be something you will do, not something you won't do and feel bad about for not doing it.
      -Is the issue really meeting notes, or is it project status? In other words, is it a question of what was said when, or where a project is now.

      I have several sorts of meetings, and use different techniques for each. For monthly department meetings, I take notes on the agenda (not many), file it in a folder after processing, and file the minutes later in the same folder. For a weekly meeting which I chair, I use a bound notebook. For another committee which I chair which meets much less frequently, I use a written agenda to make notes on, and follow up by email.

      If you want to try the one notebook method, you can get nice notebooks in a variety of styles, sizes, and prices at your local office supply store. I would try one with microperforated sheets to start, so you can tear out a random page if necessary, or switch to a looseleaf binder later. Office supply stores have some inexpensive leather items, and leather goods stores have nicer, pricier ones. Levenger is generally pricier still, but good quality and selection. I recommend waiting a bit until your experiences tell you what you want.

      Comment


      • #4
        Storing Notes

        I posted on this before, but what I do is scan all my notes and store the image file on my laptop. I use Onenote and tag the page with information like meeting subject, attendees, conference call information, etc. and then search by the tag.

        Comment


        • #5
          Processing meeting notes

          Thanks for the info, everyone. I think I'll try to go without the notebook for a while and see how that goes. It'll be a leap of faith, but one that I hope will pay off!

          To cornell's points: I don't think that I need to keep my notes around...although today I considered the idea of photocopying my notes - one for the file and one to keep in the notebook.

          I have a laptop that I seldom bring to meetings, and a Palm-based PDA. My work scheduling tool is Lotus Notes (ugh).

          Today I just spent the day at work cleaning my cubicle and filing stuff away. My office furniture is designed for hanging folders. Oh well. It's the hand I've been dealt!

          Happy New Year, everyone!

          Mike

          Comment


          • #6
            Possible Technical solution . . .

            Back in the depths of time (pre-GTD) I used paper notes, and had a bad habit of losing them (sorry, filing them).

            I now have a Tablet PC which means all my notes are in one place, and I'm less likely to lose the notes - and I always have then with me.

            I use GoBinder on a Motion LE 1600 , but there are other options -One Note, Windows Journal - on a Toshiba M200 for example

            Hope this helps.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Mikey123
              Hi all,

              This may sound like a simple question, but what do you do with the notes after they are done?
              Good question, if only because I don't know the answer for myself. Thinking about it, though:


              1) If it's my meeting, or I'm the designated note-taker, then I process them twice: once to write up a summary of the meeting for the attendees and those who wanted to know the outcome, and again to identify my own NAs. Usually I enter "Summarise Meeting Notes and Distribute Minutes" as a specific NA to do this, especially if I don't want it to wait for a day or two. This way my edited version is in the appropriate place in my folder and can be referred to if necessary.

              2) If it's someone else's meeting, I'll quickly review the notes, identify my NAs, and process them. If they send minutes, great. If not, my NA's mean I'm not the one looking guilty at the follow-up meeting because I haven't done anything (and I can tell anyone else wanting to know to "ask Gerry, because he called the meeting and didn't appoint anyone else to take notes").

              Having said that, the amount of responsibility I take for the notes depends on the meeting. If it's a progress review with my boss, I assume I'm responsible for the summary, even if my boss actually sends them. If I'm at our team meeting I don't write down much more than any actions I'm given.

              Comment


              • #8
                Notebook v note pads and files

                I've wrestled this issue and had a lengthy post (Paperstorm) on it last Fall. Here's what I've learned in the 6 months of practice. (Background: I work in business development for a 30K person high tech company building go-to-market offers with partner companies 2-3x our size. Some projects are small; some are huge and years long. Our standard practice is using lined notebooks and working between home, office, and traveling is the norm. PalmTreo is now the corporate standard for Outlook Exchange integration. I've given in and ordered service, but this post does not include this practice.)

                At first (after GTD course) I went from notebook to pad and filed all the notes in folders. Problem immediately arose of a paperstorm (large number of files) AND the files invariably were in a cabinet where I was not. I posted this issue as well as swapped emails with David Allen. I'll always defer to the processes the Davidco has establised; however, what works for me:

                -Use notebook for meeting notes, phone notes, scribbles, etc.
                -Actions are written with a circle next to them.
                -When processing "inbox", all Actions (including relevant notes) are entered in Outlook GTD addin lists by project.
                -Notebook is available for new notes and reference at all times.
                -Files are created for key projects and reference materials for those projects carried in my (wheeled) brief case. My rule is less than 2" of material at all times.
                -Files are "filed" in cabinets when project, action, reference materials are complete or no longer immediately urgent to be carried. Keeps my 2" rule real.
                -Weekly review involves going through notebook to sweep up any forgotten/overlooked items.

                This is working for me and I welcome dialogue.

                Comment

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