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Eliminating Clutter

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  • Eliminating Clutter

    After a meeting, it is common to have pages of notes. Buried in those pages can be projects and next actions. So, sometime after the meeting, a sane thing to do would be to go through the notes and move the projects and next actions into your GTD system.

    Question is, is the goal to remove the source material (the notes)? That is, to throw it away?

    If yes, I bet there are lists of things other than projects and next actions that must be pulled out of the notes and transferred to your system.

    If no, it seems as though there should be some system of links between the projects and actions you pull out, and the supporting material in the notes.

    What has been your experience?

    Thanks,
    Rob

  • #2
    For action items buried in meeting notes: I always put a circle in front of action items in notes (circle = "open loop") so I can pull those out quickly to put on my lists.

    I usually go over my notes when I get home and type in the information I want to keep. That way it's easy to search and I can divide out the information among the appropriate projects or into a notes file (reference).

    If you prefer to keep written notes, your post brings up a good question, what to do if your notes are related to multiple projects? You could put the notes in the support material folder for one of the projects (choose arbitrarily or choose the project that has the most references in the notes), and then make a cross-reference for the other projects with an index card in their support folders ("see Project A folder for more notes").

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    • #3
      I keep my notes in a moleskine, so I cannot throw away the notes or file them with the project support material.
      I number the pages and when processing the notes in my moleskine, I create a 'Table of contents' on the last pages: i just list the topics and the pages on which they appear. ( A hack I found a while ago, have forgotten the source)
      For example, we recently finished our annual accounts, so there are plenty of entries around 'audit' in my latest notebook. The last page looks like this:
      Team meeting: 13, 52, 71
      Audit: 10, 12, 19-21, 32
      etc...
      So, after a meeting I process the notes and capture the next actions and projects in my outlook task list and add an entry in the table of contents.
      If I need to look at my meeting notes again I can either go through the Table of Contents to find back the relevant pages, or if I remember the meeting date, I can go directly to the date (as I date the first page of each day).
      To be honest, once properly processed, Ii rarely need to refer back to my old notes.

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      • #4
        I always mindmap my meeting notes (by hand). I put NA next to anything I know straight away needs moving into my system. these arent just NAs, it includes projects too but i dont have time to decide in meetings, so I do that later. I normally review the notes soon afterwards and pull out any other general info, such as times, dates or names, and put that in the relevant place too.

        if I need the whole thing, say its a brainstorming meeting for all the moving parts of a project, il scan the whole thing and put it in OneNote. If its something Im going to use every day I might re-do the mindmap in iMindmap, which also lets me chop off useless bits or expand the mindmap where i have ideas after the fact.

        if I don't need it any more I keep it in a single ring binder. Even the most complex meeting would rarely produce more than a couple of mindmaps, since they're compact by nature, so it took me well over a year to fill it up. Last time it got full I just scanned the whole lot in and saved it as a file, then shredded the lot. Mercifully we have a rapid feed scanner at work.

        With support documents, such as agendas and reports, I never keep hard copies except for things like AGM minutes that need signing. Everything else is kept digitally. On the rare occasion that I don't get agendas digitally in advance, I scan it in, but its been ages since that happened.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by ArcCaster View Post
          After a meeting, it is common to have pages of notes. Buried in those pages can be projects and next actions. So, sometime after the meeting, a sane thing to do would be to go through the notes and move the projects and next actions into your GTD system.

          Question is, is the goal to remove the source material (the notes)? That is, to throw it away?
          I put all my notes for a specific meeting into a separate folder in my reference filing system. So for example I had a CWGA 2010 folder for the notes from the Colorado Woolgrowers meeting we just attended. Before I file them I put all the various projects and actions I have identified into my system. But I leave the raw notes in the folder because sometimes I can remember that I read or heard something at that meeting that at the time did not seem important but now does. So I want to be able to get back to the original notes for future projects and ideas or support material that I missed or didn't realize I'd need when I first went through the notes.

          I re-visit those folders once a year when I clean out the paper filing system.

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          • #6
            What do do with meeting notes

            Every time I take notes during a call or meeting, afterward, I am almost always astounded at how much uselessness I captured. But there are usually a couple of bits of important stuff. If I have time after the meeting, I type the bits of stuff into Omnifocus's In Box, totally unprocessed. Then when I clean up the In Box, I process and organize the stuff. I almost always throw away the notes. I have strip-mined them by this point.

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